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Island Talkback: Sports fields up for highest bidder?

Submitted by on 1, October 15, 2010 – 4:40 am6 Comments

By Jon Pecson

The financial challenges affecting Alameda have now been brought to the attention of youth sports organizations using the many sports fields throughout the Island. In late July a nonprofit organization, comprised of over 80 percent of members living outside Alameda, made a proposal to adopt a field in Alameda and take over control and use of that field which would have excluded Alameda children. This proposal to the interim city manager essentially has opened the proverbial Pandora’s box in allowing outside entities to bid for use and control of all Alameda fields.

A meeting was hosted by the interim city manager, Ann Marie Gallant, and Recreation and Park Department director Dale Lillard was held on August 30 to discuss the desire of the City of Alameda to cut costs associated with the maintenance of parks and sports fields used by little league, golf, soccer, football, lacrosse, softball, swimming, skateboarding, cycling, water polo and any other Alameda youth sports organization. A spreadsheet of 16 Alameda sports fields was presented to the sports organizations along with the activities and costs associated with maintenance of these 16 fields. The biggest concern is that an out-of-town organization with deep pockets could bid for any field in Alameda and shut out Alameda residents from using their own fields.

In response to this latest threat to the use of Alameda fields by Alameda residents, the Alameda Sports Coalition has been formed to address the importance of youth sports in Alameda. A meeting was held on October 12 at Bayport Recreation Center to address this issue and others related to youth sports to the candidates for mayor and City Council of Alameda. The mission of the Alameda Sports Coalition is to represent all youth organizations in Alameda, deliver a coordinated approach to common problems and communicate fact based information to parents of Alameda youth especially during this critical election period where the future of Alameda is being voted on.

When 12-year-old softball player Jackie C. was asked how she would feel if she may lose the use of her girls’ practice field to a organization outside Alameda she responded, “That is just not right.”


  • Jeff Faucette says:

    I live in Oakland, not the City of Alameda, but over the past several years I have spent a fair amount of time and money in the shops and restaurants in the City of Alameda. 90% of the time, the only reason I am in the City of Alameda is because one of my kids is playing a soccer game or having a soccer practice on a field in Alameda. Were it not for my kids playing for one of the unnamed “outside organizations,” I almost never would be in your city spending my money. I suspect the same is true for many, many other families in Oakland, Berkeley and Piedmont. So if you want to keep Alameda fields for Alameda kids, you should also recognize that one impact will be reducing the need for non-Alameda residents to come on your island and spend their money in your stores and restaurants.

  • Mike Brown says:

    I always wondered why Bay Oaks got all the special treatment for fields. It seems that there is an Elitist element in this organization, providing the best fields to the families from high incomes and connections. I think it is time to give preference to the kids who live in Alameda first and not Elitist families coming into Alameda.
    We have a great community and lets keep it that way. If we go off Island to Oakland, Piedmont or Berkeley do we Alamedans threaten city leaders and residents if we do not get our way?
    This is about the children of Alameda playing on the fields that their parents are paying taxes for. Simple as that.
    Lets provide the best opportunity for our Alameda Children and we can take care of our own. I see comments like Mr. Faucette as scare tactics and self-serving. Perhaps he should move his family to Alameda and see how we look out for our children

  • Roger says:

    Re: Jeff Faucette comment.

    I don’t think anybody is suggesting that youth sports organizations from other East Bay cities should be denied
    access to Alameda sports fields. These sports fields are a great resource for the entire East Bay and have been for many years. I think we all agree that getting your kids involved in organized sports at an early age has many positive benefits for them both in the immediate sense and in the long term. I wouldn’t want to deny that opportunity to any family that takes the ongoing effort and expense to get their kids involved in organized sports. By that same token I don’t want that opportunity to be denied to kids from Alameda on sports fields that the city owns and that the city built.
    Obviously there is middle ground here. Middle ground that recognizes the willingness and financial ability of youth sports organizations from outside Alameda to help
    maintain these sports fields. I’ve read figures ranging from $8,000 to $12,000 per acre per year for youth sports
    field maintenance. Definitely not cheap. At the same time that middle ground would need recognize that blocking out
    Alameda youth from city owned sports fields is non-starter for the parents and kids of Alameda.
    I think it would help to have a little less us versus them thinking on this subject. These fields are an amazing
    resource for the entire East Bay. We should be thinking about how to create the greatest availability of the fields
    for as many kids as we can. As always a little less heat and a little more light would go a long way here.
    And Jeff I hope you continue to enjoy the sport fields and the restaurants and shops of Alameda for many years to

  • John says:

    Roger. Your comments couldn’t be more right on. This is about our children and we should all keep it positive. Jeff Faucette I want you and your familiy to come to Alameda and enjoy our fields and our resturants and shops. We want to have enough fields in Alameda for our children and yours also. This country is going through some tough times and we all seem to get a little edgy. Naturally we don’t want to see Alameda children blocked out of thier own fields, and I think we could make it work for everyone, if we all stay positive.

  • Steve says:

    I was told that the field coordinator of Bay Oaks Soccer club tried to take away Atlantic field from Alameda Soccer club using a secret deal with the city manager.
    This seems underhanded, very negative for groups working together and undermines the trust of the residents of Alameda.
    Most people talking about this were appalled that this happened and wondered how a soccer club could do this to people and the kids it would have impacted. I really do not know how you can put a positive spin on this type of activity. I can see why some people think that this was essentially the same as stabbing your neighbor in the back.

  • Mark Irons says:

    If Steve’s account is correct, I think some heat and lights needs to be shone on the Alameda City Manager’s office to determine if this offer was entertained by that office or if Bay Oaks were given a flat no in the context of undercutting access by Alameda kids. Does Jon Pecson or somebody else know anything about the August meeting which might clarify this point?

    With reference to candidates forums, it might be useful to know the official position of the Interim City Manager on this one because I can’t see any candidate defending a highest bidder system, but there are candidates who are huge fans of the ICM who would like to give her the permanent position. So it would be good to have some alignment between candidates positions on sports fields and policy at City Managers o.

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