At the last SGA meeting of the semester, Dec. 2, Dr. Matthew Bricketto, Vice President of Student Affairs, and Mell Josephs, Director of SSI, spoke about the need for a joint project to overhaul two fields on South Campus. The project would include installing artificial turf on fields eight and nine, located behind Sturzebecker Health Sciences Building. The University is considering the project due to the loss of fields one and two, where the collapse of the drainage system rendered the fields unusable. These fields were previously used by the Women’s Field Hockey team, which is WCU’s only first division sport. Since the damage to the fields, the team has been renting off-campus fields for $15,000 a day.
Estimates to make these fields again useable have run between $500,000 and $750,000. The plan to install artificial turf, if approved, will cost approximately $1.5 million over the course of 10 years. These funds will be taken from a number of sources, possibly including a two-dollar increase to the already existing student activities fee. SSI will also play a part in allocating funds, as will parent fundraising, the Athletic Department, the Schools of Music and Health Sciences, and the Facilities Department.
The revamped fields would not just be used for the field hockey team, according to Bricketto. The fields would also be available during the day for kinesiology classes and be open to intramural sports in the evenings. The fields would be used by at least 1000 students each week, with two games being played simultaneously.
SGA members expressed concern that the Athletic Department might try to control the field usage and eventually take over the fields. Josephs assured the assembly that this would not be the case and that the NCAA, in fact, limits the number and length of practices of teams. Questions also arose concerning the two-dollar increase for students. The possibility of conducting a survey was discussed.
According to Josephs, this would not be the first time SSI has participated in field renovations. SSI was asked to help with fields in 1993.
Both Bricketto and Josephs spoke about the need to improve fields. The University has lost a lot of field space over the last few years with several continuing construction projects. More fields will be lost when the new music building is finished, located behind the Bull Center.
Josephs stated, “There has been the need to improve or increase on-campus playing fields for general recreation use for quite some time. This joint effort appears to be a good solution addressing a combination of pressing issues for both the campus recreation program and Athletics, especially Women’s Field Hockey. I believe, if SGA is supportive, this is an appropriate project for SSI/SGA to participate in.”
The project will be revisited by SGA next semester. If approved, construction would start this spring and the fields would be ready to play on in Fall 2004.