Student leaders at the University of Colorado are expected to pass a bill that gives the athletic department ownership of Franklin Field — and the $490,000 in debt associated with the field — as crews prepare to break ground next month on a $143 million project to upgrade sports facilities.

The bill, which is expected to pass in CU's Legislative Council today, will trade the athletic department's three lower practice fields for Franklin Field, which is now owned and maintained by the recreation services department.

Recreation services' budget is controlled by CU Student Government, and the bill passed an initial reading earlier this month.

For the athletic department, Franklin Field is integral to building an indoor practice facility and track just east of Folsom Field.

For recreation services, the field swap should allow for the expansion of club and intramural sports.

"This is a great opportunity for (recreation services) to provide more opportunities for students on campus," said Alex Mitoma, the bill's author. "Especially with the new rec center having gone up and participation in record numbers, they're looking to expand their programming."

If the swap goes through, the athletic department will settle all debt associated with Franklin Field, which was renovated in 2006. The remaining debt for the field is roughly $490,000, according to Nan Lu, associate director for business and finance within recreation services.


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The athletic department plans to build a 120,000-square-foot indoor practice facility on Franklin Field, which is expected to include a 100-yard artificial turf football field and a six-lane, 300-meter track.

Recreation services now uses Franklin Field for club sports, events and other activities and rents out the space to tailgaters on football game days.

In exchange for Franklin Field, recreation services will own the three lower practice fields, including "the bubble," north of Boulder Creek and the stadium.

Kaia Steele, 2, plays bean bags with her dad during Buffs tailgating in November 2012. Athletic department officials have said the indoor practice facility
Kaia Steele, 2, plays bean bags with her dad during Buffs tailgating in November 2012. Athletic department officials have said the indoor practice facility on Franklin Field will have room for tailgating. (Cliff Grassmick/Camera file photo)

Recreation services now rents out the bubble for club and intramural sports for roughly $25,000 a year.

The swap means that instead, the athletic department will rent out the bubble from recreation services for $60,000 a year. The athletic department will use that space between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, giving recreation services additional revenue and access to the bubble during nights and on weekends.

Ellesse Spaeth, one of the bill's co-sponsors, said the swap benefits CU students by expanding capabilities for club and intramural sports.

"Intramural and club sports are so highly used right now that (the swap) is actually just going to allow us to expand it to more people," Spaeth said. "Right now, we're having to turn down people that want to play certain intramural sports."

Parking will not be permitted on the lower practice fields once recreation services assumes ownership, according to the bill. Athletic department officials have said the indoor practice facility on Franklin Field will leave room for roughly 230 cars once construction is finished.

Athletic Director Rick George said the agreement between recreation services and his department will help create a "long-term partnership."

Crews should break ground May 12 on the $143 million project to upgrade facilities, George said.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Sarah Kuta at 303-473-1106 or kutas@dailycamera.com.