A recently updated campus development plan has named Rob Field 4 as a potential site for a new pool for UCSB’s swim and water polo teams, leading to an outcry from students who say it will invade student-use campus facilities.
Campus Pool, the teams’ current practice location, is in poor condition, and Intercollegiate Athletics is seeking a replacement competition and practice facility. According to Men’s Swim Coach Gregg Wilson, the pool was built in the early 1940s, and in addition to being too shallow to meet NCAA standards, the concrete deck is disintegrating. Now, according to the UCSB Long Range Development Plan, which lays out the campus’ strategy for the construction of new facilities and services, the ICA aims to construct a new intercollegiate pool facility on Rob Field 4.
The proposed location would put the new pool closer to other ICA facilities and minimize construction costs by using existing water pipes, as well as eliminate noise concerns by placing the pool further away from academic buildings.
However, the plans have led to student complaints that the ICA pool would monopolize facilities currently available to all UCSB students at all times. Rec Cen Student Supervisor and Triathlon club member Allison Peairs said the new pool would take away some facilities such as those in the Multi-Activity Center.
“The main concern [is that] it would take away the MAC locker rooms from student use,” Peairs said. “Plus, that location was going to be used for another turf field for intramural and club sports.”
However, according to Associate Vice Chancellor of Facilities Management Marc Fisher, the swim and water polo teams would only use the MAC locker rooms until construction of separate locker rooms is completed.
“The plans for this pool have a stand-alone locker room, ticket office and meeting rooms – it’s a full-on competition facility.” Fisher said. “There’s a little piece of misinformation floating around that the intention was to use them permanently.”
Meanwhile, in response to student protest letters and a Facebook group opposing the projected pool location, Associated Students Legislative Council passed a resolution at its Jan. 16 meeting to support maintaining separate facilities for recreational and intercollegiate athletics.
Students opposed to the use of Rob Field 4 have proposed use of an adjacent field, previously used for archery and now home to handball courts. However, Wilson said choosing this area would add a million dollars to construction costs for additional lighting, tree and dirt removal and repositioning utility lines.
According to Fisher, previous studies conducted have considered alternative locations for the pool, such as the outdoor basketball courts behind Robertson Gym. He said this location is no longer an option because it is too small to house a large competition facility.
Associate Athletic Director Bobby Castagna said the proposed pool location would lower the cost of a new facility and help speed construction by making use of existing water mains.
“We’re trying to do what is going to be the most economical way to get a pool because it is expensive,” Castagna said. “From an administrative standpoint, raising money is going to be the biggest [issue].”
As for ICA, the department currently uses such venues as the Thunderdome, Rob Gym and the adjacent ICA building for practices and games.
In 1990, UCSB students voted to pay $73.10 for construction of the Rec Cen as a facility specifically for individual students, intramurals and club sports. The Rec Cen serves approximately 4,000 students involved in intramural sports and 850 members of club sports teams, as well as thousands of individuals.