I apologize that I haven’t written about Wednesday’s Athletic Council meeting yet. I was waiting for the electronic version of the presentations but I am not sure when I will receive them.
My evening with the Athletic Council started with a meeting of the Practice Under the Lights Committee.
This committee started its work a while ago (long before I joined the Council). The focus of the effort is getting the Park Authority to change Policy 402. (Click here to see an earlier post about Policy 402)
The two issues the Athletic Council has requested be reviewed include:
- Getting rid of the special exemption for football and opening all lit grass fields to practices regardless of the sport they play. (This would include opening up the opportunity for teams to practice on lit diamond fields.)
- Looking at opening and closing park fields in a manner that is more consistent with the way that athletic organizations would like to use them. This would include giving all sports the same access that football currently enjoys and opening up the possibility for organizations to request additional time to accommodate tournaments, etc.
I found out in this meeting that the Athletic Council has been working to get the lit fields open to practices for more than two years.
The meeting was in theory going to be the final meeting of the committee as it was hoped that the Park Authority was going to agree to our requests.
The evening began with a letter being delivered to us which read in part:
“The Park Authority Board will not vote to amend the lighting of practice fields without addressing the continuation of lights for court sports.” Park Authority Letter 3-17
With that statement, the gauntlet was thrown and we were told, in effect, that unless the Athletic Council was able to get funding back for the tennis courts and basketball courts, they would not address any of the issues with lit practice fields.
Most of the committee meeting focused either on the policy issue that allows football to practice under the lights or on the issue of how to fund lighting all of the potential practice fields so that the diamond fields could be used for practices. (Assuming we get the policy changed.)
The Park Authority has determined that it will cost $24,000 to $40,000 to light the additional fields. Doing this will bring around 55 diamond fields online for potential practices as well as a small handful of rectangular fields (I believe it brings around eight new fields on line for potential practices).
In the end, we reinforced that the practice policy should be changed and that the Council would have to ask the Board of Supervisors for $100,000 to light fields and courts. ($60,000 for basketball and tennis courts and $40,000 to light the currently unlit grass fields.)
Interestingly, the Park Authority ignored the Council’s previous requests to change Policy 402 to open level 1 fields up to sports other than football to be able to practice.
Obviously this was a disappointment. As I indicated in the Athletic Council meeting that followed, it really did feel like the Park Authority put a gun to our head and forced us to support the lighting of the basketball and tennis courts. Frankly, I would have probably supported fighting to keep them lit anyway, I just did not like the way the Park Authority went about it.
Dropping a letter on us at the committee meeting, one hour before the Athletic Council meeting, was not helpful. Worse, it was the last Athletic Council meeting before the Board of Supervisors holds hearings on the budget.