Three Village Soccer Club players kick the ball around on a Stony Brook University field. Photo by Greg Catalano
January 16, 2013 | 09:50 AMAfter tense and uncompromising meetings, negotiations are moving forward between the Three Village Soccer Club and Stony Brook University for use of the university's athletic fields, according to both parties.
Since January 2012, the soccer club and the university have been negotiating new terms and conditions for the soccer club's use of field space adjacent to the university's south parking lot off Stony Brook Road.
The soccer club has been using the 25 acres of field space since 1982, but the university decided to renegotiate the contract after students complained about a shortage of field space for intramural and club sports and alleged mistreatment by soccer club members. There are eight soccer fields now, all of which the soccer club has access to. University students can use the fields when the soccer club isn't using them.
According to Stony Brook University spokeswoman Lauren Sheprow, progress has been made and the discussions are ongoing. Soccer club president Mitch Pally said in an email that the club and university have a conceptual agreement and he is awaiting a draft permit from the university.
"Hopefully we will have a full written agreement within two weeks," Pally said.
Last November, the negotiations became heated after the club released a petition entitled, "Stop Stony Brook University from taking our fields," which SBU student leaders said was misleading. Shortly after students held a meeting to address the petition, the soccer club held a meeting of their own with more than 450 parents and children in attendance. Parents expressed their frustration with the negotiations, with some accusing the university of being a bully to the Three Village community.
The soccer club currently pays a $60,000 rental fee to the Stony Brook Foundation, which is used for athletic scholarships. The club also pays $14,500 for parking lot maintenance and security costs. Pally said the club has spent about $1.5 million in field improvements over the last 20 years.
According to the university's proposed new terms, starting in the spring of 2013 after an expansion to 10 fields, university students will gain primary use of three of the fields, which the soccer club can use when not in use by the university. The soccer club will have primary access to seven fields, some of which are smaller.
According to Sheprow, plans to convert one of the fields to a turf field and install lights would cost about $2.1 million, and would be funded by student recreation fees. In addition, two of the existing fields would be expanded. Construction has already begun on three new fields for the club adjacent to Stony Brook Road. The new agreement would be for five years instead of the typical one-year agreement that has existed between the two parties.
But board members of the soccer club are asking the university to extend the permit for 15 years instead of five, as they will be investing money in improvement projects. They are also asking SBU to reduce the rental fee over the next few years based on how much money is spent on improvement projects.
Pally said he would prefer not to give any particulars until an agreement is signed by both parties, but he did say that the club's conditions and concerns are part of the conceptual agreement. Sheprow said further details would be available once an agreement is reached.
"We are clearly moving in the right direction," Pally said.