A tentative date to reopen the Upper East Field has been set for April 2, said Kevin “Skippy” Givens, UCSC’s competitive sports supervisor. After the announcement last September that the field would remain closed until June due to dry conditions after reduced irrigation, NCAA, club and intramural sports were forced to find alternative playing space. One of those spaces, the Oakes Lower Lawn, was closed indefinitely last week.
Apart from the Upper East Field, there are two other areas on campus large enough to hold practice — the Family Student Housing playfield, which has been closed for the majority of the 2014-15 year, and the Oakes Lower Lawn.
“The main reason for closing the field was the condition, because of its deterioration in the drought and the increased use of the field,” said Oakes College Administrative Officer Susan Welte. “We didn’t have any other choice but to close the field and let it restore itself.”
This increased use was partly attributed to unsanctioned club teams like women’s soccer and both men and women’s lacrosse that used the field space because they had nowhere else to practice. An unaffiliated team is not formally recognized by the university, and thus cannot use other campus facilities.
“The field closures have affected formal activities with the sports clubs and intramurals. This has been the most difficult year in my 27 years here and has been a constant issue because the students have been displaced,” Givens said.
Angie McElroy, president of women’s club soccer, said the field closures this year prevented her team from becoming an “official team.” The team has applied every year since its creation in 2011.
Givens said the athletic department was ready to accept the women’s club soccer team as a formal club team this year, but with the field closure, there wasn’t enough money to offset its costs of off-campus use. He’s still looking to add the team to the athletic department, but it’s now a matter of timing.
The team is now in season through the West Coast Soccer Association, but are without a field. Instead, it uses the racquetball courts on campus to practice and Soquel High School to host league games.
“It has been really unfair to our team because we aren’t allowed to use any of the on-campus fields, because they are either closed or not open to unaffiliated teams,” McElroy said.
Givens said not only have the on-campus fields been affected, but Westlake Park at the base of campus has also been closed to teams and other student organizations, such as Greek life.
With the approaching reopening of the Upper East Field, Givens said the priority may still be to open the field for summer conferences, such as cheer, band and lacrosse camps that are held on both fields and bring in revenue for the university. He also said those conferences contribute to the field’s poor condition, and if there is not enough rain, the problem could be prolonged for another year.