University Appeals Seasonal Dome Decision


Example of the proposed athletic dome, here seen at Marquette University. Courtesy of Main Line News

Allison Sayia

On Sept. 28, the Radnor Zoning Hearing Board rejected the University’s plan for a seasonal dome to be built on West Campus turf field from Nov. 1 to April 1 each year. 

This dome would be used by student athletes to practice and would be available to club sports as well. The student athletes are at a huge disadvantage compared to other Division One teams as most other schools have a indoor facility year round for training. This point has been emphasized by the University’s Athletic Director Mark Jackson.

The University recently appealed the rejection as most varsity teams are shuttled off campus to indoor sites or have to practice in unfavorable weather. In addition, the University does not want athletes out on the roads in such bad weather conditions just to get to practice.

 Mark Jackson testified at one hearing, stating, “what we are competing against are permanent, cutting-edge field houses…This isn’t a want. This is a need.” 

The athletic department has had many issues getting sports medicine trainers to these off campus locations. Furthermore, the off campus commutes creates chaotic and unorganized schedules for these student athletes. 

These athletes are often late to class due to traffic and other uncontrollable factors. The seasonal dome would remedy these symptons by providing an indoor, on campus, easy to get to, training facility useful to all students. 

The dome would be removed and taken down during the summer months and the manufacturer would make the temporary dome in clay or putty color to blend in.

 The school offered to plant 87 evergreen trees to block the light that could potentially come from the dome. The University is fighting hard against this decision and coming up with ways to work with neighbors and appeal to the Zoning Hearing Board. 

The University asked to deviate from the township’s original building height limit which was 38 feet for the 370 foot-long-by-220-foot-wide seasonal structure. 

Before the hearing, University officials met with the residents who live on Hilldale Road and Wistar Road to show them how the dome would affect their living situation. They set up a crane to demonstrate the height of the dome. 

One Hilldale resident argued that the front of her house faces the proposed dome and it would “cause an eyesore.”

Another resident argued that the maximum height of 65 feet is double the size of the west campus dorms and that Villanova athletics have not demonstrated a great amount of need for the dome. 

A prevalent counter argument contendst that University  teams are successful, and admissions are up with the University is nationally recognized. 

William Martin, chair of the Radnor Zoning Hearing Board, is concerned about the visual impact the dome will have on the neighbors.

 However, a different Zoning Hearing Board member refutes this and states that “the university needs this structure, given the size of their program and the students.” 

The initial vote rejected the dome by a vote of 3-2. The vote reflects a difficult decision.

The current appeal seeks to overturn the decision and allow the seasonal dome to be inflated over an artificial turf field on its West Campus.

In the appeal, Nicholas Caniglia, the lawyer representing the University in the case, states the Zoning Board decision was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and contrary to law and not supported by the facts in the matter.”

In the meantime, student-athletes are forced to adapt and make the most of their training with the current available accomodations.