Broomball fee increase looming on the horizon

Donna Hill, member of team Tapp That, moves to keep the ball away from a pursuing opponent during a broomball game held on Nov. 14, 2011. Erin McGroarty/ Sun Star

Erin McGroarty/ Sun Star Reporter
Nov. 22, 2011

Over the years, broomball has become a much-loved intramural sport offered at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.  This program proved to be one of the most popular intramural sports, according the Student Recreation Center, based on past and present enrollment levels.

Described by many current players as a mix of soccer and hockey, broomball is played on the ice. Players use sticks reminiscent of lacrosse, and a small rubber ball. The point of the game, much like soccer and hockey, is to score the ball into the hockey net. The one caveat is that no skates are involved, so the sport proves to be a little more slippery than expected. A sport well-known around campus, many students play and appreciate broomball. This year’s financial problems may prove to threaten the legacy of this beloved sport.

Like any other UAF intramural sport, there is a league of recreational teams for broomball. UAF students play against each other in seven-week seasons. They usually play one game a week at the Patty Center ice rink between 10 p.m. and midnight. Helmets are the only protective gear required for this sport. Many players also choose to include knee pads.

There always has been a fee for students who participate in intramural sports. In 2008-2009 the fee was raised from $5 to $7.

“It was for the use of the SRC, the facilitates, the ref, and the gear. We all understood why it was raised and no one really cared,” long-time broomball player Jesse Manchester said.

However, recently Student Services and Facilities Services suggested to change the fee for intramural broomball and hockey. This change would happen in the 2012 spring semester, raising the broomball entry fee from $7.00 to $25.00 per student per seven-week module.

The Athletics Department used to manage the Student Recreation Center (SRC). During that time, the semesterly athletics and SRC fees covered broomball. 

In July 2011, the Student Recreation Center, all intramural programs and other campus recreation was moved from under the Athletics Department to Student Services in order to bring forth more of a student focus.

“We welcome that,” Vice Chancellor for Students Mike Sfraga said. “After all, that’s where they all started.”

Although this change was supposed to offset the money issues within the Athletics Department, the SRC still faced a deficit. This deficit turned out to be due to ice charges. These expenses included staffing the Patty Center rink, lights and Zamboni expenses. Facilities Services raised the fees for  intramural broomball and hockey because those are the only two sports played on the ice. While the SRC is under student services the Patty Center ice rink remains under Facilities Services.

The Athletics Department previously contained all athletics activities and programs on campus. However, because the SRC is a service to students, the center is now under Student Services, which deals with more than athletics. Facilities Services deals mostly with university buildings and equipment and manages the Patty Center ice. 

Facilities Services charges the SRC and the intramural program for use of the ice. According to last year’s budget, the entire intramural program costs about $58,000 per year. The ice costs approximately $27,000, making up nearly half of  the total cost.

“The university will continue subsidizing the cost, as we have done in the past, but somewhere the difference has to be made, because the Division of Student Services does not have the cash to make up that kind of difference.” Vice Chancellor Mike Sfraga said at the ASUAF meeting on Nov. 20.

After much discussion among the broomball league between both players and captains, the broomball captains agreed that Facilities Services would not otherwise rent out the ice during the 10:30 p.m. to midnight slot. However, in the past there was much competition for ice, according to Sfraga, regardless of the time slot.

The issue of potentially raising the broomball fee is still under discussion. Sfraga addressed the ASUAF board at the weekly meeting Nov. 20 to answer any questions that the senate had. If the fee  is raised, the broomball league agreed to boycott the sport or find elsewhere to play until the fee is lowered back to the original amount.

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