The UCSB Dept. of Physical Activities and Recreation is working to instate a new lock-in fee that will replace part of the grass on Storke Field with an all-weather synthetic turf field.

Before the initiative can appear on the spring election ballot, the department must collect signatures from 15 percent of the undergraduate and graduate student body – roughly 3,000 student signatures – by today. As of yesterday, UCSB Sport Club Coordinator Taggart Malone said the department had not counted the number of signatures it has already gathered. If the $4.50-per-student-per-quarter initiative passes, both graduate and undergraduate students would begin paying the fee in Fall 2005. The funds would also provide lights and perimeter fencing for nighttime athletic activities. Malone said construction of the new field would begin immediately using loans that will be repaid with money generated by the lock-in fee.

The initiative also states that students would have the option to reaffirm the lock-in every three years. If approved again after the first three years, the fee would double to $9 per student per quarter to retrofit the remaining space on Storke Field with all-weather turf. If students do not reaffirm the lock-in fee after the first three years, the university will continue to maintain the grass fields using reclaimed water.

Malone said students are often turned away from intramural sports teams because of the lack of available fields.

“Because intramural sports are very popular at UCSB, there has been a shortage of facilities available for participants,” said Malone.

Carissa Johnson, student office manager of the Intramural Office, said Storke Field is injury-prone because of its numerous potholes and uneven ground.

“In order to minimize the risks to the students, the all-weather fields prevent many injuries and are a tremendous benefit to the students who use them,” she said.

Aaron Halimi, UCSB’s men’s lacrosse club president, said recent rains have made the current grass fields increasingly dangerous to play on. Halimi also said the grass fields are difficult to maintain in general.

“The initiative would definitely be a good investment which could last for years,” Halimi said. “It’s a win-win situation.”

Each season, practices and games are cancelled due to rain, which causes seasons to shorten and schedules to change, Halimi said. The wet conditions caused by rain would not be an issue with synthetic fields because water cannot soak into the rubber-based fields. The fields also would not suffer from puddles or potholes.