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College of St. Mary plans $18 million multisport field house on its Omaha campus

College of St. Mary plans $18 million multisport field house on its Omaha campus

The College of St. Mary plans to build a new field house with a 200-meter indoor track for the Flames’ newest sport, plus courts for basketball and volleyball and batting tunnels for softball, among other facilities.

College officials hope to break ground as soon as March on the 82,000-square-foot complex near 70th and Pine Streets. That’s on the east side of the College of St. Mary campus, just across the Little Papillion Creek from Aksarben Village.

They’re calling it the College of St. Mary Wellness and Athletic Center. The $18 million project will include a golf simulator, new fitness areas and cardio equipment, modern locker rooms, a human performance lab and meeting space, according to the college. A link will be built to the college’s existing Lied Fitness Center, which will receive “a little face-lift” inside and out, the civil engineer on the project told the Omaha Planning Board on Wednesday.

“This is an exciting project,” Dawn Danley, a civil engineer with the DLR Group who was an assistant volleyball coach at College of St. Mary for 10 years, told the Planning Board.

The project will be completely funded by donations from alumnae and friends of the college.

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The Planning Board voted 6-0 to recommend approval of rezoning the site, allowing an amendment to the college’s conditional use permit and granting a waiver of a building height limit of 35 feet. The field house would be 44 feet tall.

Approval to build in a flood fringe zone of the Little Papillion Creek is pending. The college must comply with all flood plain development regulations and obtain a flood plain development permit before it can get a building permit, according to Planning Board documents.

The site includes the College of St. Mary’s former soccer fields. They have been moved. The college has been grading the site to raise the elevation about 6 feet, Danley told the Planning Board. That was needed for the elevated link between the fitness center and field house.

Contacted Wednesday, college officials released a fact sheet on the project but declined to elaborate in advance of a formal announcement, expected soon.

The college, led by President Maryanne Stevens, is connected to the Sisters of Mercy, a Catholic organization founded in Ireland in the 1800s to serve and educate people in need. It’s a women’s college, although some graduate programs are open to men.

It has an enrollment of 1,168. Its enrollment grew in 2018 after it reduced its tuition price, but the point of the reduction wasn’t to attract more students but to make the college more affordable and attractive to middle- and lower-income students.

The College of St. Mary Flames compete in 10 varsity sports in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. They are members of the Great Plains Athletic Conference, which includes 10 schools in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota.

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Chris Burbach covers the Douglas County Board, Planning Board and other local government bodies, as well as local neighborhood issues. Follow him on Twitter @chrisburbach. Phone: 402-444-1057.

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