See more of the story

The University of St. Thomas is eyeing Town & Country Club golf course land for a possible $61.4 million athletics expansion.

St. Thomas hopes to grow its athletics footprint following a D-I athletics reclassification and as the university starts to envision the next 100 years, said athletics director Phil Esten.

"Our first facility that we're looking at is an ice hockey facility, so that we can compete at the Division 1 level, recruit at the divisional level and provide our fans and our student athletes with the amenities and the experiences that are aligned with it," Esten said.

Softball and baseball sites also are early possibilities. The university hopes to stay in St. Paul, Esten said.

The Tommies now play in the 1,000-seat St. Thomas Ice Arena. Baseball and softball facilities are wedged on campus.

The first round of golf in Minnesota was played at Town & Country, the oldest country club in the state, according to its website. The club is less than a mile from the St. Thomas campus.

"In the interest of it being extremely proximate and for a lot of different reasons a pretty interesting site … so we thought that we'd enter into a conversation just to see if there was any interest," Esten said. He noted, "You don't know until you ask."

The Town & Country Club's board of directors is "carefully reviewing the proposal from the University of St. Thomas. The club's property was not made available for sale, and the proposal was unsolicited," according to a statement.

The size of the land allows for possible enhancements of other parts of campus in addition to athletics, said Esten.

St. Thomas also is looking at the Highland Bridge site, the former Ford plant location, which is a mile and half from campus.