Towson University gets OK for sports complex

Regents tell school it must raise $8 million, work with residents

February 06, 1999|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

The Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland approved yesterday a $28 million proposal to build a multisport complex on the Towson University campus, provided that school officials privately raise $8 million toward the cost and work with neighborhood residents who oppose the project.

In return, the board agreed to support the university's request for $20 million in state funding from the General Assembly this year.

"We're very pleased," said Wayne Edwards, director of athletics at Towson. "Without that vote, the project wouldn't have gone forward. But we don't have the money yet, so we have a lot of fund raising to do."

The project would increase Minnegan Stadium's capacity from 5,500 seats to about 11,000, replace grass with artificial turf, add a four-level fieldhouse with locker rooms and expand the concession area.

Towson officials say the expansion of the stadium, which is home to the lacrosse, football and track and field programs, is necessary to attract better athletes. It would also prepare for an expected jump in student enrollment over the next 10 years.

About half a dozen residents who live near the campus showed up at the board meeting yesterday to testify against the expansion because of concerns about traffic congestion, parking and noise.

"It isn't a done deal," said Richard Parsons, who lives on Woodbine Avenue in west Towson.

"They have to reach some of those conditions before they can move ahead with it, not the least of which is creating some valid community relations with surrounding neighborhoods," Parsons said. "Those relations are not good at all right now."

The regents also required school officials to give board members progress reports on the expansion.

Towson officials say they have honored their pledge to work with the community. With the help of County Councilman Wayne M. Skinner, who represents the area, a community task force was created to keep neighbors informed of the stadium developments and give residents an opportunity to express their concerns.

The school hopes that construction will begin in the summer and be completed by 2001.

"We've met with a number of the community associations over the past four or five months," Edwards said. "We're good neighbors, so we believe it's our responsibility to address community concerns. We certainly recognize that there are a number of things we need to accomplish before this happens."

Pub Date: 2/06/99

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