Soccer team one beneficiary of Beach Legacy
Published: Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Updated: Thursday, July 12, 2012 15:07
Men's head volleyball coach Alan Knipe remembers what Long Beach State was like as a student in 1991 before the Walter Pyramid was built and the change in recruiting as a result.
On Tuesday night, Knipe said he can see a similar change happen with the women's soccer team if the Beach Legacy Referendum passes in March.
Part of the BLR includes a 3,000- to 5,000-seat stadium, which would double as a track facility, including lights and three synthetic grass turf fields to allow for intramural and club sports, as well. An estimated cost of the facility has yet to be determined. The vote will be conducted online on March 11 and 12.
"[Head coach Mauricio Ingrassia] and I have very similar paths," Knipe said to a crowd of 20 at the Pyramid Annex Conference Center. "He is doing everything he possibly can.
"[The Pyramid] was instant credibility for [the volleyball team]."
Knipe alluded to the man the women's soccer field is named after to show where he felt Ingrassia's program is on the pecking order.
"George Allen is our old football coach. That shows where our priority is with women's soccer," he said.
Despite qualifying for the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history and winning the Big West Conference regular season title for an unprecedented third straight season, the women's soccer team averaged just 344 fans per home game last season at George Allen Field.
David Benedict, the senior associate athletics director for external relations, attributed the low attendance figures to the time of day LBSU played.
This past season, the 49ers played two home games starting at 1 p.m., two at 4:30 p.m., two at 3 p.m., two at 2 p.m. and four at noon. Against opponents on the road, LBSU started a game against Utah at 7:30 p.m. mountain time, against Arizona at 7 p.m., against UC Riverside at 7 p.m., against Cal State Fullerton at 6 p.m. and against UC Santa Barbara at 7 p.m. The ‘Niners also started at 8 p.m. against the University of San Diego at UCLA's Drake Stadium in their first-round NCAA match-up.
"Not having lights is a big disadvantage. The ability to play a night match would be huge," Ingrassia said in regards to being able to recruit and host NCAA Tournament games.
Benedict said the school would like to bring NCAA Tournament games to the campus in the future.
"We can't even place a bid [to host]," he said.
Wayne Stickney, the 49er Athletic Club development coordinator, said the proposed stadium would occupy one of two locations: where George Allen Field or the Jack Rose Track currently exists.
"There are basically two existing green spaces for recreation, practice, etc. George Allen and the large, non-conforming space where the rugby team, club soccer and other groups practice and play," Stickney said in an e-mail. "The synthetic turf grass fields would most likely occupy one or partially parts of both of these spaces."
The playing surface at George Allen Field compared to Drake Stadium is slightly narrower. LBSU's home field is 75 by 115 yards, as opposed to UCLA's 75 by 120-yard surface. Ingrassia said the 49ers' is a good size and the dimensions likely wouldn't change.
Ingrassia added that with the current funds, he spends about "30 to 40 percent" of his time on fundraising.
Knipe said the BLR would help his team, as well as the others on campus, compete for national championships.
"We just can't compete. I feel [the days of competing in the Big West] will come to an end," said Knipe, whose team advanced to the Final Four last season.
Knipe also said the BLR could help turn LBSU into less of a commuter campus, which he added would be beneficial to all students.
"To change the culture … just think about the livelihood on campus non-stop," he said. "It would feel collegiate and not like Long Beach City College. I feel it's an unpolished diamond."