By Kensey Curtis - email
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - A free softball event is canceled after new park policies got in the way. Volunteers planned the event for more than a month, but say they found out at the last minute the fields have a fee.
"Major League Baseball sponsors an event called Pitch, Hit, and Run; it's always been for boys baseball, boys and girls that play baseball. This year they added a division called girls softball which is what we got on to, because we play softball," tournament organizer Mathew Howard said.
When Howard found out about the new division, he knew right away it was the perfect volunteer project for his team to participate in. He started planning the event and picked the Lubbock Youth Sports Complex for the location.
"So we brought the event to Lubbock thinking it would be something good for the community, for the girls to have the experience, for girls to play softball. So we set this event up with the idea that it's a free event, doesn't cost anybody anything; it's all sponsored by Major League Baseball, so no money changes hands," Howard said.
Howard says he contacted the city several months before the event, but then two days before players were supposed to take their first swing, he received a foul from the city.
"I would have to pay a rental fee in order to host the event in the city," Howard said.
The softball fields will remain empty Sunday, because the Pitch, Hit, and Run will have to cancel their event after finding out the city wants $150 per field if they play.
"That's a new policy; it's now not just tax dollars, it's people have to pay to step foot on the property," Howard said.
Howard says the city finalized the policy on October 1st, claiming that if an event is held at any of the city facilities, it now has a price tag.
"There was no way they could waive the money, and if I wanted to have my event, I was going to have to pay," Howard said.
This was very disappointing to Howard and several hundreds of girls who hoped to play in the event. He says in a situation like this, it isn't the adults who miss out, but it's the kids who won't get to have their games.
"It's just, there are other opportunities, but obviously the city of Lubbock has decided that they're not going to be friendly in that sense," Howard said.
The volunteers still have until May 18th to host the event and are currently looking for a new location in a different city.
KCBD called Mayor Tom Martin, City Manager Lee An Dumbauld, and Councilman John Leonard who represents the district where the Youth Sports Complex is located for comment. None returned our phone calls.
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