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Valley Perspective

CSUN Needs Money--and Lots of It--for Athletics

It's time for the community to do its part financially to help the university to go forward with a new stadium, continued intercollegiate competition.

May 09, 1999|SAM JANKOVICH | Sam Jankovich is the interim athletic director at Cal State Northridge

A recent Valleywide survey commissioned by Cal State Northridge shows that local residents overwhelmingly support the construction of a multipurpose 8,500-seat stadium on campus.

The survey, conducted by Arnold Steinberg & Associates Inc., shows that a substantial plurality of those polled support building the stadium (36% in favor and about 10% opposed).

Those figures dramatically increased to 68% favoring and 16% opposing (with 16% undecided) once respondents understood that the stadium could be financed by CSUN student fees and private donations and not by local taxpayers. The random telephone survey, conducted March 13-18, queried 750 registered voter households in the San Fernando Valley area. Steinberg said the margin of error probably was less than plus or minus 3.6%.

Now that the people of the Valley have spoken, CSUN has a strong endorsement to go forward. But before we contemplate the next steps toward building the stadium, we need to address an even more pressing issue.

We urgently need the financial support of the community if we are to continue offering intercollegiate athletics as part of the educational experience at CSUN.

The cost of maintaining our Division 1 intercollegiate athletics program, with 22 women's and men's sports, will be about $9 million in 1999-2000. Last year, our budget was only $6.8 million, of which about one-third was from student fees ($2.2 million), with an additional $2.7 million from the general fund. Outside funding, including game guarantees, sponsorships and donations, accounted for about $1.1 million, and we had a one-time carry-over of about $218,000 from the previous year.

To compete in the Division 1 Big Sky Conference, we need to invest in our athletic program. With the exception of our basketball gymnasium, most of our sports facilities are in dire need of major repair or upgrading. We immediately need about $1.1 million to repair and upgrade our locker room facilities, weight training room, football coaches' office and baseball diamond.

That's separate from the estimated $8.5 million we would like to generate from businesses, contributions and student fees to build the new on-campus football / soccer and multipurpose community stadium.

That means to continue moving forward, we need local businesses, sports enthusiasts and philanthropists to chip in more than $1.5 million each year.

The survey revealed that there's great support of CSUN athletics in the Valley. Most respondents said they were sports fans and nearly one in five said they had attended a sports event at CSUN. About 86% said they thought it was important that the new facility include state-of-the-art design, lighting and sound technology to minimize disruption to neighbors. The university remains committed to working with the community to ensure that all benefits of the stadium are maximized and that disruption is kept to a minimum.

Almost 88% thought it important that the facility not only be used for CSUN college football and soccer but for high school football championships and major community events such as Easter sunrise services and the Fourth of July celebration. And 79% thought the stadium's 8,500-seat size, with improved facilities for teams, officials and the media was important.

This past season, CSUN student athletes competed courageously and brilliantly against tremendous odds, with sub-par training facilities and equipment and program funding. Our athletes have been doing their part and CSUN students and the university system have been doing their part to support CSUN athletics. Now it's time for the community to do its part. Intercollegiate sports are an enriching experience for fans and an important tool for helping prepare student athletes for the competitive field of life.

Given adequate funding and community support, CSUN will have a Division 1 intercollegiate athletics program to rival any in the country. We look forward to working with all constituents in the Valley to make this possible.

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