IRVING, Texas – The University of Dallas withdrew its bid for George W. Bush's presidential library Monday, citing the library site selection committee's exclusive talks with nearby Southern Methodist University.
Last month SMU emerged as the apparent winner for the library with the announcement of the negotiations, putting it ahead of the other two finalists, the University of Dallas and Baylor University in Waco.
University of Dallas officials said Monday that the school wanted to release some of the partners who had committed to the project, including the city of Irving's promise of $50 million in hotel tax revenues. The 3,000-student Catholic university also wanted to be free to develop the site it had set aside for the library, a sprawling 300 wooded acres with the Trinity River running through it.
"Our decision to withdraw from the selection process is not a loss for our university; this is not a failure. Instead, we think this is a tremendous success story for us," President Frank Lazarus said. "This process has propelled us into the national stage and our university is now characterized by a new vision for a very bright future."
The school in the Dallas suburb of Irving had planned to put Bush's library, museum and public policy institute on 300 acres adjacent to Texas Stadium, an area being redeveloped into retail, entertainment, housing and office space after the Dallas Cowboys move into their new stadium in Arlington in 2009.
The Bush library complex would have included a fountain, bluebonnet and rose gardens and a 250-acre Freedom Park with an area for concerts. Among several trails planned was one with 43 oak trees representing all U.S. presidents so far.
A final decision on the library is expected within months after Bush receives a recommendation from committee members Don L. Evans, former commerce secretary; Marvin P. Bush, the president's brother; Andrew Card, Bush's first chief of staff; and Craig Roberts Stapleton, U.S. ambassador to France.