Speak Out Against the Proposed Field-Use Fee Increase in Seattle

I recently received an e-mail with regards to the field-use fees in the city of Seattle. Apparently, the City Council is looking to increase the costs for the fields for the upcoming year. One of the largest soccer leagues in the area, Co-Rec Soccer, sent this note to all the managers in the league, but this seem applicable to that of other leagues in the area, like GSSL, Northwest Co-Rec Soccer League, and also groups like Underdog Sports Leagues. Here is the e-mail that was sent out:

Dear Co-Rec Soccer Players and Managers,

Mayor Greg Nickels and Seattle Parks Superintendent Timothy Gallagher have sent their proposed budget for 2009 to the Seattle City Council for approval.  Unfortunately, it includes a huge increase in field-use fees from $40 per hour for sand fields to $50 per hour!  Even worse, artificial-turf fields will go up from $40 per hour to $60 per hour!!

Field-use fees have traditionally been based on the maintenance and scheduling costs of a field.  Years ago, we gave testimony that the fees for sand fields not only covered all of the costs, they actually generated extra revenue.  Artificial-turf fields cost even less to maintain, as Parks acknowledges on page 9 of the budget.  So, there is no justification at all to increase fees by 50%!

Middle and lower-income participation has already fallen off because of the 2003, 2005 and 2006 fee increases.  There is no logic behind raising fees on adult soccer again, when the result will be to lose even more teams, reduce City revenue and destroy community spirit.  Why turn adult sports in our city into something only the affluent can afford?  With so many people in financial difficulty in today’s economic climate, it is extremely poor policy to raise fees on recreational sports, which provide camaraderie and exercise for so many Seattle residents.

Please forward this letter to your teammates and supporters and if possible attend the upcoming 2009 Budget Hearings to help keep sports fields affordable.  Send your e-mails of protest to Parks Chair Tom Rasmussen and the rest of the Seattle City Council (cut and paste all of them into your “send to” line), and let them know that you don’t approve of the proposed fee increase and its negative effect on local recreational soccer!

tom.rasmussen @ seattle.gov; richard.conlin @ seattle.gov; nick.licata @ seattle.gov; jan.drago @ seattle.gov; sally.clark @ seattle.gov; bruce.harrell @ seattle.gov; jean.godden @ seattle.gov; richard.mciver @ seattle.gov; tim.burgess @ seattle.gov

Public Hearing:  This coming Monday, October 27th at 5:30pm (call-ins begin at 4:30pm at 206-684-0481) in the Seattle City Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall, located at 600 Fourth Avenue (entrance on Fifth Avenue).  In order to speak, you will need to sign in on the speaker sign-up sheet which will be made available outside council chambers at 5:00pm, 30 minutes before the start of the meeting. The Seattle City Council will be voting on the Mayor’s Proposed Budget before Thanksgiving.

Further information about the Seattle City Council, including phone numbers, can be found at:  http://www.cityofseattle.gov/council/councilcontact.htm.

Thank you for giving these issues your consideration.

Derek Goldingay
Manager, Co-Rec Soccer Association

The overall costs to maintain a turf field is very low. Much lower than the costs to use it per hour, which is what makes this increase very unfair. These costs in general have a much greater impact though and that’s in the communities that these fields create through its usage. There are a number of leagues around the area that use these fields and people come from all over the greater Seattle area to play. Whether they’re in college or in their later years, it brings people together to do something that they all share in common: recreational sports.

By the increases in costs, they are damaging these communities. The last thing, especially in such difficult economic times, is to have people have nothing to look forward to than to be able to play their favorite sports in the leagues throughout the city. It helps people relax, have fun and enjoy playing together with others. Are these increases in costs worth destroying the camraderie and fellowship? Through these groups and leagues, it helps bring people in the city. There have been a number of field fee increases already in the past and that has already resulted in people having to give up on recreational sports in Seattle due to too high of costs. Letting this happen again will only see the community shrink more.

If you are in one of the sports leagues in Seattle, strongly consider e-mailing the city council and protesting the increased costs in field usage. Also, try to come out to the City Council meeting this upcoming Monday to speak to the board in protest. I know I’ll be there and probably speaking on the behalf of the community.

Use your right to freedom of speech. Speak up, speak out.

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