What's Buggin' You with Kate Larsen
SACRAMENTO, CA - A local Australian Rules Football club is having a tough time reserving athletic fields in Sacramento.
Australian or Aussie Rules is a fast-paced, rugby-like sport that's growing out of its field space in Sacramento. Only certain City fields, which tend to be monopolized by soccer leagues, are appropriate for the sport.
Saleh Tyebjee, President of the Sac Footy Club says he has to modify the rules of the sport to fit the field space. "Limited resources in the City, we're often sharing the fields. We're coming around for a kick today, so were just taking whatever space we can get."
What's buggin' Tyebjee, is that he and his 200 members have been unable to reserve the soccer and football fields they need to properly play the sport. "Some of the better fields we haven't been able to get, especially in the Fall when we need lights. There's only a few fields with lights and some of them are restricted so that we can't get access to them."
One of those restricted-use fields is O'Neill Field on Broadway and 6th Street in Sacramento. The Central California Soccer League or CCSL has a Primary User Agreement for the field. In exchange for almost exclusive control of the field, the soccer league pays for all field maintenance, saving Sacramento's Department of Parks and Recreation about $20 thousand a year.
"We mow every 12 days because of our limited staff. During soccer season, they need a mow every three to four days so that it's safe for their players," says Teresa Jackson, a permit manager for the Department of Parks and Recreation.
During the past three years, Parks and Recreation has seen 65 percent of their budget slashed. The Primary User Agreements mean the City of Sacramento gave up control of twelve fields for two years, in order to survive. But now, the fields are subject to private interest and CCSL won't allow rugby or aussie rules players on O'Neill field, even if they agree to help share the maintenance costs.
"The soccer group that's maintaining the field 24/7 does not feel that rugby should be played on the field, just in that it's harder on the turf than soccer," says Jackson.
Tyebjee says the Sac Footy Club has been in touch with CCSL in the past. "They've told us, that they basically want to use it for their soccer interests, which is understandable, they do have kid programs. But, so far we've been unable to get even a single evening a week to play our games there."
Until News10 brought this issue to Sacramento's attention, the City didn't know there was a problem. Since then, Parks and Recreation and the Sac Footy Club have been discussing alternative fields, but none with the ideal trifecta of lights, location and field quality.
The Primary Use Agreements were put into place two years ago and expire later this year. Sacramento's Parks and Recreation Department is meeting this May to discuss the effectiveness of the agreements and whether they will continue with them moving forward.
If you have questions or concerns about Sacramento's athletic field permits, you can contact the permit office at (916) 808-6060 or visit Sacramento's Parks and Recreation website to make reservations.
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