Photo by Cal Athletics

New Facilities Planned for Softball, Beach Volleyball

July 16, 2018
6,302

BERKELEY – Cal’s softball and beach volleyball program will soon have new facilities under a plan announced by Chancellor Carol Christ Monday afternoon.

The improvements will create an upgraded softball field and beach volleyball courts that meet current standards and provide practice and competition space to allow these programs to continue at the elite level.

For softball, the field will be flipped in orientation and enlarged, with the new home plate area near the current left field foul pole. In addition, it will include expanded permanent seating, covered batting cages, locker rooms, a video board, restrooms, field lighting and an elevated press box, among other amenities. Once completed, the softball facility will meet field dimension standards, and Cal will be able to host NCAA Tournament games, something the team is unable to do presently.

The beach volleyball facility will remain on the Clark Kerr Campus, moving to a new location near the intersection of Sports Lane and Dwight Way, and will feature four sand courts, as well as permanent spectator seating, restrooms and a scoreboard. Beach volleyball currently has two courts available with no additional permanent amenities.

“I am pleased that we are embarking on new facilities for our softball and beach volleyball programs, bringing them up to modern standards that will benefit our student-athletes, their fans and our intercollegiate athletics program as a whole,” Director of Athletics Jim Knowlton said. “Providing equitable facilities for all our student-athletes is essential for us as a university and as a department in order to maintain our commitment to gender equity and the requirements of Title IX that support and protect that essential value. I want to thank Chancellor Christ for her leadership and help identifying funding to help make these projects possible. While we are in the very early stages of a related fundraising campaign, I am already impressed by the interest and enthusiasm I am seeing from our alumni, who have already contributed a pair of six-figure pledges.”

Said softball coach Diane Ninemire: “I am extremely excited for Cal softball and the opportunities a new facility will bring to our program, and I know our players are going to be thrilled. This will help ensure a bright future for us, and I know that student-athletes will see it as a stadium that will allow them to excel on and off the field. Just as important, the facility will put us in position to host NCAA regional games that would give us a home-field advantage. I am very appreciative of the Chancellor, our Athletic Director Jim Knowlton and others within our department who have worked so hard to make this possible.”

“The addition of a new facility will positively impact every aspect of our program,” beach volleyball coach Meagan Owusu said. “We are thankful for the campus giving us this opportunity. Cal beach volleyball has continued to grow every year, and a new facility will give our student-athletes an environment in which they can flourish.”

Before construction begins, each project must be reviewed by the campus and receive budget, design and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) approvals. The review process will occur during the fall of 2018 and campus approvals are anticipated by January 2019. Assuming all remains on schedule, construction is expected to begin in spring or summer of 2019, with work on the volleyball facility estimated to take one year and 15 months estimated for softball.

No state funding or student tuition will be used to finance the projects, Christ said. Instead, the campus will draw from what are known as “undesignated bequests” to cover the majority of the costs, with the athletic department embarking on a capital campaign to raise additional funds.

Statement from Cal Chancellor Carol Christ:

Dear Colleagues,

In my message to campus last March about Cal Athletics, I wrote of our need to improve the training and competition facilities we provide to our women’s softball and beach volleyball teams. With the initial analytical work completed, we recently presented preliminary plans for these projects to the Capital Projects Committee. Due to the significant costs associated with these facility improvements, I am writing to explain how we got here, and what needs to happen going forward.

This issue is first and foremost about our values, specifically the value the University places on gender equity, including access to equitable athletics facilities for our male and female student-athletes. In addition, we must maintain compliance with the provisions of Title IX that support and protect those very same values. After conducting a careful review, I am convinced that if we are to remain true to our moral, ethical and legal commitments we must improve two of our women’s athletics venues. To be clear, the University is not joining the athletics arms race that is occurring throughout the country but rather is working to provide our existing women’s teams with fields, courts, and associated amenities that are similar to what their male counterparts at Cal already enjoy while also meeting our obligations under the law.

Unfortunately, the price tag associated with these necessary facility improvements is extraordinarily high. Initial estimates provided by external consultants with relevant expertise indicate that new softball and beach volleyball facilities will cost approximately $30 million overall. I expect your reaction to this number may be similar to my own: one of concern and dismay. So, I want to share what I have learned about circumstances we cannot wish away.

The current situation is the result of a series of missed opportunities and unfortunate decisions that have accumulated over the years, for which campus and athletics must share responsibility. Simply put, we have a history of insufficient investment in the facilities that support some of our women’s sport programs. As a result, we must proceed with these projects.

The high cost of the projects is driven by their scope. When it comes to equity in facilities the moral and legal comparator is the over-arching level and quality of facilities and amenities that we provide to our men’s teams. So, in that context I am convinced that temporary and/or incremental improvements will not suffice. While the details are not yet finalized, we need to provide our softball and beach volleyball teams with facilities that are commensurate with our men’s facilities. In addition, we must also address long-standing shortcomings in the softball field itself which, in its Strawberry Canyon location, does not have competition-level lighting and does not meet NCAA size requirements for post-season competition. As a result, the entire

field will need to be flipped in orientation and enlarged. In addition, there are the high costs associated with the University’s public-sector project regulatory requirements, as well as high labor expenses for all university-sponsored construction.

After extensive discussion and analysis, I have come to understand that short of discontinuing the softball and beach volleyball programs ---a step I will not take for it stands in dramatic opposition to our values and would likely set the stage for costly litigation – the University must accept the responsibility and the costs necessary to improve the facilities.

There are of course more draconian options, none of which make sense in the context of our university’s identity, mission, principles, relationships and objectives. Reducing the scope of our intercollegiate athletics program to a minimal level would come with its own set of significant costs in terms of participation and developmental opportunities for our student-athletes, the ties that connect us as a campus community, alumni relations, philanthropy for academic and athletics programs, and the threat of litigation. Yet, even in the context of a smaller intercollegiate athletics program inequities in need of correction would persist.

These projects have nothing to do with my recent decision to change the “prong” through which our intercollegiate athletics program complies with Title IX’s equitable participation mandate. We currently comply through Prong III, under which we must fully and effectively accommodate the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex. To remain compliant under Prong III, we would be obligated to add women’s intercollegiate sports whenever a request to do so meets the requirements for interest and ability set forth in law. For example, in compliance with Prong III, we added Beach Volleyball as an intercollegiate sport in 2014, and it is likely that additional sports would meet the standards in the future. Under Prong I, on the other hand, a university complies with Title IX’s participation mandate when it provides athletic participation opportunities that are substantially proportionate to the undergraduate enrollment. I believe that maintaining an athletics program that is substantially proportionate to our undergraduate population is more consistent with Title IX's defining goal of gender equity and comes with the added benefit of better predictability regarding Intercollegiate Athletics’ programmatic scope and financial future.

In terms of financing the anticipated costs, we will not use any state funding or student tuition. Rather, the campus will, as it has in the past when confronted by unanticipated capital expenses, draw from what are known as “undesignated bequests.” I have also been pleased by the results of initial conversations with a select group of donors who have long histories of supporting both academic and athletics programs. Intercollegiate Athletics believes the time is right for a broad fundraising push for the program that would also raise financial support for these intercollegiate athletic facilities that embody and reflect our commitment to gender equity and continued participation opportunities for women on our campus.

I know that this is all hard news in the context of our ongoing financial challenges and the undeniable opportunity costs no matter what the funding sources are. I wish different decisions had been made in the past, but I cannot turn back the clock. I have repeatedly asked senior

administrators and our attorneys to explore additional options, to do more analysis, to scrutinize every aspect of the cost estimates. While I can assure you that I will continue to review every aspect of these projects, the basic contours of what we must do are now in place.

Sincerely,

Carol Christ, Chancellor

Discussion from...

New Facilities Planned for Softball, Beach Volleyball

oskirules
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Great news!
Schroeder71
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Congratulations for HC Ninemire & Cal softball for receiving the green light for a rebuilt softball facility that will meet NCAA guidelines to host postseason regionals, etc. The Cal women have always (except once) had to travel across the country to play in NCAA regional series (usually at SEC host schools). The home team wins
a very high percentage of the double-elimination four team series. Last season, it was either 14 or 15 of the 16 NCAA Regionals were won by the host school. I also love the fact that the Bears can play night games, too. This has been long overdue. It should help recruiting , too. Will the makeover be available this spring (2019) or 2020? GO BEARS!

Golden One
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Schroeder71 said:

Congratulations for HC Ninemire & Cal softball for receiving the green light for a rebuilt softball facility that will meet NCAA guidelines to host postseason regionals, etc. The Cal women have always (except once) had to travel across the country to play in NCAA regional series (usually at SEC host schools). The home team wins
a very high percentage of the double-elimination four team series. Last season, it was either 14 or 15 of the 16 NCAA Regionals were won by the host school. I also love the fact that the Bears can play night games, too. This has been long overdue. It should help recruiting , too. Will the makeover be available this spring (2019) or 2020? GO BEARS!


2021.
Page 1 of 1
×
Verify your student status
See Subscription Benefits
Trial only available to users who have never subscribed or participated in a previous trial.