Fresno youth leagues pushing school district for more play fields

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- As more and more kids play year round sports, the increased demand for prime practice fields has created a new kind of competition within communities.

Fresno youth leagues say they're being squeezed out and forced to play in nearby Clovis.

"It's harder and harder to get allocated time," said Carol Davies, who is Bullard United's team mom.

Davies has two grandchildren playing in the Bullard United Soccer League. She says they can no longer play in Fresno because the city and Fresno Unified have declared school fields Green Spaces - so that means all club teams have to go.

The thought is the fields need time to regenerate grass. Some Fresno youth sports leagues are demanding more grass. A lack of fields has left teams scrambling to find available places to play.

The demand for available sports fields has reached a fever pitch here in Fresno. Families are now having to drive their kids across town just to practice before.

"It's questioning to me as I sit there, and I see these facilities empty in the early evening when teams would be practicing or on the weekend when families would be there with their children when games would be going on," Davies argued.

But Fresno Unified says it's not that simple.

"Since we do have a season of sports, you cannot just practice anytime for any sports," FUSD athletic manager Brett Mar said.

Mar says each sport is broken up into seasons in which a particular sport can use the district's fields. For example, baseball in the spring and soccer in the fall

"I think before we had a lot of over usage of our fields," he said. "There were a lot of bare dirt spots - one field in particular were the fields at Hoover. They were in pretty poor condition."

The district says the fields are finally coming back to life since it stopped allowing year round play. But it's little consolation for soccer mom's like Carol with kids who play year round sports and struggle to secure useable grass.

"Grass is meant, at a school, to be played on and loved and tussled," she said. "That's part of its character. This is not our front lawns."
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