The Beach Legacy Referendum’s defeat in a student vote last week has the 49er women’s soccer and track and field teams contemplating the future of their respective programs.
A proposed 5,000-seat, lighted soccer and track facility was part of the referendum.
“There’s just more stress on the coaches [to fundraise,]” said women’s soccer head coach Mauricio Ingrassia, who added that it would’ve been nice to play night games since George Allen Field doesn’t have any lights.
For track and field head coach Andy Sythe, that means stepping up fundraising efforts to cover operating costs while the stadium plan is put on hold indefinitely.
“We already must raise a great deal of money to produce revenue and pay part-time coaches,” Sythe said.
The 49er track team has two assistants, Cory Loebl and Dave Rodda, whose salaries are supplemented through fundraising events such as the Twilight Distance Carnival and Pyramid 5K Walk/Run.
Revenue from these fundraisers also pays for the team’s travel expenses.
“Part of having better resources is having a better facility,” Sythe said. “When you don’t, it’s a larger cost to operate. It forces us to travel to get competition.”
Sythe said the 49ers could not host the Big West Conference championship last season because the Jack Rose Track was considered unsuitable to host the competition.
Women’s soccer still manages to lure top-level competition to George Allen Field. The 49ers open their 2009 home schedule against UCLA, which ended last season with a loss in the Final Four and finished ranked No. 3 in the nation.
Ingrassia is unsure when to think about a new soccer facility again, but seemed ready to move forward.
“We’re going to continue what we’re doing and hope to continue to have success,” he said. “It would’ve been a really nice boost … but we have lots of recruiting tactics.”
One of the selling points is location, which Ingrassia added was a “desirable place to be.” The fifth-year head coach said that the local soccer community and talent should be great enough to overcome the BLR result for the time being.
Currently, the women’s soccer program issues “around 8.6 scholarships,” out of the maximum 14 teams are allowed to offer under NCAA rules, he said.
The lack of a new stadium also raises concern that recruits might bypass The Beach in favor of track and field programs at other colleges.
“Recruiting is about perception,” Sythe said. “The fact that we haven’t had a new facility, it’s easy to give recruits the impression that there’s a lack of commitment.”
The athletic department has contacted consulting firms over the possibility of refurbishing the Jack Rose Track, but no company has been willing to spearhead the renovation effort, Sythe said.
“Re-surfacing will not work,” he said. “No company will accept the job to re-furbish because of the existing surface and foundation.”
The athletic department has had negotiations with nearby Long Beach City College about using Veterans Stadium to host home meets, but have settled on Cerritos College’s Falcon Stadium until a new stadium plan is approved.
The 49ers’ only home meet this season is scheduled at the Norwalk-based community college.
“We can only go as far as the school will allow us,” Sythe said. “There are junior high schools in the area that have better bleachers than we do.”