Future of RSF at Stake as Result of Funding Deficits

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Athletic department officials said yesterday they are recruiting students to serve on a committee that will help decide the uncertain future of the Recreational Sports Facility.

The advisory board, consisting of at least six students, will determine whether to raise additional funding for the facility or to cut operating costs, said Mike Weinberger, associate athletic director of budget and finance .

The failure of the Bridging Equity, Athletics and Recreational Sports Referendum during student elections in November forced the department to address revenue shortages, Weinberger added.

"We are looking at a variety of options," he said.

According to Weinberger, the board will likely investigate implementing a fee for students who use the facility.

"That idea is obviously a possibility," he said. "I can't say they are not considering it. It is one of a whole universe of options that will be decided at a higher level."

Weinberger added that the board also plans to explore reducing the facility's open hours to cut costs.

"We will review the operating hours to determine if there are logical times we can shut down," Weinberger said. "At the same time, we want to maintain ourselves as a good student service."

The facility's financial problems existed even before it was even built. Prior to its construction, planners inaccurately assessed construction costs and maintenance, Weinberger said. He added that while the facility was being built, the state withdrew custodial funding because it was not an academic building.

Currently, students pay $57 a year toward the building's construction bond and $30 in registration fees to maintain operation of the athletic center.

The facility generates additional funds through memberships sold to alumni, faculty and community residents.

Weinberger said the competitive health club market makes it difficult to increase revenue from non-student users. He added that because the facility is extremely crowded during peak evening hours it is not attracting new members.

A UC Berkeley sophomore said he would generally oppose a fee increase or a reduction in hours, but would favor a small fee increase if it meant preserving the facility's normal opening hours.

"I would prefer the fee over cutting hours," said mechanical engineering major Ari Bronstein. "It's already a pretty good value and it would be much more convenient than cutting hours."

The board will also consider how to use space that was converted to temporary locker rooms during the renovation of Haas Pavilion.

Weinberger said he expects the new locker rooms at the pavilion to open around April 1, barring delays in construction. Once the new locker rooms are completed, Weinberger said the advisory board will help decide the best use of the temporary locker room space.


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