City Council votes to end long standing agreement with Lemoore Sports Foundation

Updated 6 years ago By Ed Martin, Editor
The Lemoore City Council, at its June 19 regular meeting, will consider ending a long-standing agreement with the Lemoore Sports Foundation for its sports complex at 19th Avenue.
The Lemoore City Council, at its June 19 regular meeting, will consider ending a long-standing agreement with the Lemoore Sports Foundation for its sports complex at 19th Avenue.

The Lemoore City Council, at its Tuesday meeting (June 19), terminated a long-standing agreement with the Lemoore Youth Sports Foundation (LYSF), a deal forged in 1995 that culminated in the Lemoore Youth Sports Park, a comprehensive sports park complete with softball and soccer fields.

The park has been in continuous use since its completion and has been an essential part of the local youth sports scene.

The activities – softball, soccer, and a myriad of other activities – will continue to be conducted at the park, requiring the council to enter into separate five-year lease agreements with the local Lemoore Youth Soccer Association and the Lemoore Youth Softball League, allowing the local organizations use of the park for practices, games, and tournaments.

“I’m excited for the opportunity for the City of Lemoore,” said Lemoore Recreation Department Director Jason Glick, who has considerable experience with large sports complexes. When he worked in Visalia, he was responsible for the management of a recreational complex and says they can add many benefits to the city, including increased revenue.

“We drew a lot of tournaments throughout the area,” he recalled. “I kind of see the same vision for the Lemoore Youth Sports Complex.” However, he added, “One thing we’re going to have to do for future years is to decide how to light up the facility at some point. That’s going to cost some money, so we’re going to have to figure out how to do that.” He said lighting the large complex will allow nighttime games, particularly advantageous during those hot summer days.

“It’s just a win for the city,” he said. “That’s kind of my vision for this, to get this complex turned into a regional complex.”

The city council, in 1995, signed a 40-year lease with the LYSF to create, construct, and operate youth soccer and softball fields. The local agricultural community and other local businesses volunteered time, equipment, financial and administrative assistance. Lemoore volunteers placed over 72,000 feet of pipe to keep the massive park watered.

John Hodgson, one of the founders of the LYSF and still a member of the board, was pleased with the agreement. “At the beginning, it was a great enterprise,” he told The Leader. “We all worked together in the beginning. It was a community effort. The timing was right back then.”

He and the board are proud of the facility. “It was really put to use. We were doing eight tournaments or more a year,” he recalled. He added that the facility was a bright spot for Lemoore, bringing in much-needed tax revenue from visitors who spent money here while participating in local tournaments.

The first event occurred on August 23, 1997, when the Lemoore Soccer Festival inaugurated the newly constructed park. Over the years volunteers added additional softball fields, soccer fields, a concession stand, bathrooms and lighting projects. Boy Scouts helped build a new flagpole and new bathrooms.

The LYSF, over the years, was a critical factor in providing numerous opportunities for local youth to participate in a myriad of activities and has been highly successful.

Earlier this year, Lemoore officials began meeting with the LYSF and on Thursday, March 22, 2018, the LYSF board voted 8-0 to terminate the existing agreement and return the massive park to the City of Lemoore pending separate agreements between city leaders and the youth organizations still using the facility.

Assuming city leaders accept the agreement, the proposed effective facility turnover date will be Monday, July 2, 2018. Also, the City of Lemoore and the LYSF will have a Youth Sports Park re-grand opening scheduled for Saturday, July 14, 2018.

Since its creation in 1995, the LYSF has limited use to its soccer and softball leases and has occasionally opened it to other events.  Under the new agreement, the park will be open to the public, including allowing outside groups to rent or use the facility. The Lemoore Parks and Recreation Department will have greater access for its numerous programs.

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