May 3, 1999 Vol. III, No. 15

President Announces Plan for Future Football/Soccer Venue

Pierce College Stadium Could Become Interim Location;
North Campus Chosen as Ultimate Stadium Site

Culminating a nearly yearlong process, CSUN President Blenda J. Wilson right announced last week she had accepted an advisory committee's recommendations for siting a future university football and soccer venue, spelling out an athletic facilities plan for the future.

Under the plan detailed by Wilson and incoming CSUN Interim President Louanne Kennedy, the university will continue to use its current North Campus Stadium at least until mid-2001- or when the second phase of the planned North Campus biotechnology park is ready to proceed.

After that, if necessary, CSUN would explore a possible joint-use agreement with Pierce College in Woodland Hills for the interim use of its current stadium. And meanwhile, the university would seek increased support for its athletic programs, including enough to build a new stadium on the North Campus.

The president's announcement coincided with the release of the final 38-page report by CSUN's Athletic Facilities Siting Advisory Committee, a 12-member group of university and community members that held public hearings through the fall semester to consider the stadium siting issue.

"After 11 meetings and dozens of hours of testimony from campus, community, sports and student leaders, the committee emerged with two main recommendations," the president said. "Interim President Louanne Kennedy and I have received the report and concur with the committee's major recommendations."

Essentially, the committee recommended that any future on- campus football/soccer stadium be located on the North Campus, on the hill west of the current University Village Apartments and a short distance south of the existing North Campus Stadium, which has been in use since 1971.

Likewise, the committee recommended the Pierce College site as the best off-campus site, particularly as a temporary facility for the university. Pierce would host CSUN's games until the campus could raise the $8 million to $10 million needed to build a planned 8,000 to 9,000-seat stadium on the North Campus.

"Achieving these goals will take some time," Wilson said. "Several important and interrelated objectives that are essential to achieving campus goals for intercollegiate athletics, and gaining the support of the San Fernando Valley community, must necessarily precede formal plans to construct a football/soccer stadium."

Before that could occur, Wilson said, CSUN needs to hire a new athletic director, complete a financial and facilities needs assessment of the university's athletic programs, develop a permanent consultative process with campus neighbors, and solicit significant financial support for the entire CSUN athletic program.

The university is discussing plans for a future football/soccer venue because the current North Campus Stadium, built in part from the former Devonshire Downs horse race track, will have to be demolished when Sylmar biotech pioneer Al Mann and his companies fully develop the North Campus biotech park.

The Athletic Facilities Siting Advisory Committee recommended the North Campus site as the location for a future new stadium, saying the site provides the best opportunity to minimize any impacts on surrounding property owners. As a concept, the stadium would be built into the hilltop as a bowl.

But the committee also liked Pierce College as an off-site option, calling its stadium "the most suitable for short-term use because of its availability." In total, the committee reviewed 11 locations-six on campus and five off campus-in coming to its final recommendations.

During the months of debate, campus athletic administrators, student-athletes and a representative from the Big Sky Conference all advocated for an on-campus stadium site. But a vocal group of university neighbors countered by demanding that any future facility be sited away from the campus.

In announcing her decision, Wilson noted that a recent university-commissioned survey of San Fernando Valley residents found that 68 percent supported construction of an on-campus stadium, provided taxpayer funds are not used. And nearly 88 percent thought it important that any such facility also be available for high school and community events.

-John Chandler

May 3, 1999

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