One Group Says Voters Misled By Youth Sports Complex Project - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

7/11/07

One Group Says Voters Misled By Youth Sports Complex Project

Construction is now set to begin on a multi-million dollar youth sports complex.

Wednesday morning, a groundbreaking kicked off the Little League project at Milwaukee Avenue and FM 1585.

When complete, city leaders say the complex will be a win-win situation for local youngsters as well as Lubbock's economy. It will include 12 softball fields, three Little League baseball fields and one junior league baseball field.

But one group of athletes is not so thrilled and claim the city has struck out once again.

"We're not opposed to softball fields. We're not opposed to Little League baseball fields either. We're just concerned our kids are not getting the same quality fields," says Billy Babcock, the President of the Lubbock Soccer Association.

It's the construction on the new $12 million Southwest Sports Complex some people are taking issue with, since soccer parents say the land was originally purchased for soccer fields, but, ironically, it's the one thing not being built.

Babcock says citizens aren't getting what they voted for at the polls in 2004.

"We've always felt like soccer should be included in youth complex phase one and have been led to believe that at times and evidently that is not the case," Babcock said.

In 2004, voters approved $6 million dollars for expansion to Little League fields and soccer fields.

In an e-mail to Babcock from the city's Senior Financial Analyst, "The original details for the use of the funds consisted of acquisition of 26 acres and to add 10 soccer fields, along with parking concession, restrooms and trees."

But with groundbreaking on new little league and softball fields and no sign of construction on soccer fields, Babock says the public was misled in 2004.

"There has been some misunderstanding in the public. I know from all the events they were always consistent in that in phase one the purchase of land for soccer fields would happen.  The purchase of land for softball and construction of softball would begin in phase one. The actual construction of soccer fields would come in phase two of the project," Lubbock City Councilman John Leonard said.

Meaning, the land is purchased but to get the fields built, another bond election must be held. That's something the city plans on discussing soon, once it hears recommendations from a citizen committee on Thursday.

"We look forward to working with these soccer parents to make their dreams come true," Mayor David Miller said.

A dream Babcock says should already be coming true without another vote.

"I'm very concerned. Our economy is not the best. Grandparents are going to say we voted once for soccer, why vote again," Babcock said.

Construction on the new Little League fields is expected to be complete within a year.

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