Star Tribune: DeLaSalle Wants Home Field

» On a small island in the Mississippi, a school’s dream for home-field advantage is giving neighbors nightmares.

DeLaSalle High School hopes to build a 600-seat athletic field next to its campus on Nicollet Island, an eclectic and eccentric neighborhood in full view of some of the most expensive riverside property in downtown Minneapolis.

The new field would allow the century-old private school to play home games on its own turf rather than at assortment of “borrowed” fields across the city.

“We’ve been homeless for 106 years,” said Brother Michael Collins, DeLaSalle’s president.

Too bad, say many island residents. An athletic complex would be disruptive to island life, they fear. Traffic that comes onto the island via several bridges would snarl. Open regional parkland would be lost.

“They’ve gotten along without a field for a century,” said DFL state Rep. Phyllis Kahn, who lives on the island. “It’s just too bad that their home turf is too small. … What they’re planning is just too big for too small a piece of land. …This is not NIMBY [not in my backyard]. This is a backyard for a lot of people.”

Controversy and contention aren’t new arrivals on Nicollet Island. In the 1970s, residents spent more than a decade fighting plans to raze the historic but rundown homes and turn the island into a park. Other outsiders proposed building high-density developments and trendy shops.

Now, Kahn and other residents hope to head off the DeLaSalle proposal even before drawings are put in ink and a formal plan lands before the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. Residents have peppered board members with phone calls and e-mails and recently attended a board meeting to voice their opposition to a plan that would use park land that now accommodates a trio of tennis courts. … «

Excerpted from DeLaSalle High wants home-field edge
Mary Lynn Smith, Star Tribune
January 22, 2005