The University of St. Thomas, with campuses in each of the Twin Cities, announced a $75 million donation from Lee and Penny Anderson that will fund the construction of a multiuse arena in St. Paul. The sports venue, named The Lee & Penny Anderson Arena, will primarily be used by the school for the men’s and women’s basketball and hockey teams. It will also be used for commencement ceremonies, academic convocation speakers, career fairs, and other special events. It features 6,000 seats, practice courts and rinks, and facilities for sports medicine and nutrition.
The public will also be able to rent out clubrooms and other spaces within the arena for private events. “We will have staff who will help market and operate the facility from an events and activities standpoint, so there will certainly be an ability for people to rent the space—whether it’s the main arena or spaces within the arena,” says Dr. Phil Esten, the University of St. Thomas’ athletic director.
The Anderson family previously donated toward construction of the Anderson Student Center, the Anderson Athletic & Recreational Complex, and the Anderson Parking Facility on the St. Paul campus. Lee Anderson sits on the board of trustees at the university and serves on the board’s finance committee. The university called the donation for the arena the single largest monetary gift the school has ever received.
In July 2021, the University of St. Thomas became the first college to switch from Division III directly to Division I. Esten says, “We know and understand that there is a shortage of ice in the city of St. Paul, and we certainly expect that the second sheet of ice will have availability for local programming, whether its youth hockey or high school hockey.” The arena will be along Cretin Avenue and Summit Avenue, and it is expected to open in fall 2025.