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Sports groups wary of Salt Lake City's plan to change the way fields are scheduled

Published March 27, 2013 10:47 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The boys and girls of summer are taking the fields but the Salt Lake City Council isn't quite ready to adopt a new fee and scheduling system that could upend some long-standing traditions.

Coaches and youth athletic supporters told the council Tuesday evening they should make sure that playing fields in the city are available to community groups, rather than groups from other towns.

According to the proposal, fields would be reserved by the hour rather than by the week, as is the case now.

A new fee schedule would charge nonprofit youth organizations $2 an hour; for-profit organizations $4 an hour; and adult leagues $5 an hour.

The proposal is aimed at keeping leagues from scheduling more time than necessary and thereby keeping other user groups – soccer and lacrosse – from using fields.

The proposal also would increase concession stand costs for organizations from $100 per season to $100 per month.

Not least, the proposal would do away with "grandfathered" scheduling offered to long-standing leagues that guarantees them time on specific fields.

Coaches and supporters from Rose Park and Foothill little leagues told the council that it shouldn't turn its back on leagues that have been using and maintaining the same fields for six decades.

"Rose Park is an inner city area and its a stretch for many of these kids to afford baseball," said Kevin Park. "But my big concern is the grandfather clause."

Park and others, like Jeff Harris, said they feared bigger leagues would push the local community leagues off the fields, where they have played since the 1950s.

Those sentiments were echoed by Tim Smith and Andy Tyre from the Foothill baseball league, who said they poured sweat equity into the fields every spring and summer.

"We put a lot of effort to keep those fields in good shape," Smith said. "Those fields we use are not multipurpose. They are for baseball."

Cameron Jepperson, a 12-year-old Rose Park little league player, said in an interview that kids in his area want to play ball. And, he added, it will help keep some out of trouble.

"If we don't get this, a lot of kids who are not playing might get into gangs."

But Eric Pouicus told the council he favored the new plan because his girl's soccer league teams can't get time on Salt Lake City fields and have to travel to Sandy in order to play.

"I'm against the grandfather clause because I want my girls to be able to play without driving a half hour south."

The council deferred action Tuesday evening and will take up the subject again at its next regularly scheduled work session April 2.

csmart@sltrib.com