Members of a private soccer league in El Paso say the city’s fees at the Eastside Sports Complex are too expensive to use for the upcoming Spring 2019 season.
The Paso Del Norte Soccer Association says the City of El Paso’s rate of $35 per player each season is just too expenisve.
The Eastside Sports Complex is located at 14380 Montwood Dr. in East El Paso.
The Paso Del Norte game commissioner Daniel Vazquez told KTSM the league will not be using the complex this season, forcing them to have to play at city parks across the city instead.
“We’ve got a lot of parents that might have a six-year-old, a 10 and 13-year-old, so when we have to scatter, mom might have an 8:00 game in one spot, 10:00 in another and then a 1:00 or 2:00 game in another spot,” Vazquez said.
The Eastside Sports Complex currently has eight soccer fields available for use.
“The majority of our kids cannot afford the increase of $35 per player,” Dr. Manuel Feliberti, President of the Paso Del Norte Soccer Association, said.
The league says they were able to use the facility in the Fall 2018 season with a rate of $10 per player, which was a mutual agreement with the City of El Paso.
The City of El Paso says the $35 per player rate is a one-time fee per season, saying the rate comes with a purpose.
“We need to be able to capture some portions of that fee other wise it means we won’t be able to maintain the facility at the level that it needs,” Laura Cruz-Acosta, a city spokesperson, said.
The City of El Paso said it needs to be able to maintain 75 percent cost recovery to keep the facility maintained and operated with staff. The 75 percent was agreed to in 2017 in order to make sure these costs weren’t coming out of tax-generated city revenue alone.
Vazquez says this state-of-the-art facility was meant to provide for the East El Paso community with proper fields for play, but says the fees will leave it unused. However, the city says it isn’t too concerned about that.
“The data that we’re finding, the information that we received is that we are at capacity actually so there is interest from other leagues using this facility,” Cruz-Acosta said.
Vazquez says the Paso Del Norte Soccer Association is one of the largest private leagues in El Paso, consistently serving anywhere from 3,500 to 5,000 kids signed up with its teams.
He says for the Spring 2019 season, they will play at city parks such as Blackie Chesher Park in East El Paso, but says this isn’t preferable because the fields are overused and not the best for soccer play.
According to Tracey Novak, the El Paso Parks and Recreation Director, in 2018 City Council agreed to charge $35 per season instead of the $5 per participant and $2 per spectator for league play. Currently the $5 fee for participants and $2 per spectator fee is for tournaments.
The Eastside Sports Complex was part of the 2012 Quality of Life Bond project, with the first phase costing $10 million.
Vazquez and Feliberti are frustrated with the fees not only because they say it is too expensive, but says the $35 fee is driving kids and parents away to other leagues. The league currently charges up to $70, so the added fee would have parents paying nearly $100 per child, per season.
Vazquez said other teams not using the facility are able to provide less expensive memberships since they don’t have to add the $35 fee on top of other rates.
As of now the city says the fees aren’t changing for now but it is open to listening to the community’s wants and needs regarding the Eastside Sports Complex.
Cruz-Acosta said the City of El Paso is open to any feedback on the facilities and would like to have that conversation with the public in order to obtain that feedback.
Members of the Paso Del Norte Soccer Association told KTSM they plan to reach out to city representatives individually with a letter stating their concerns and negotiations.
“Of course we would like to do our part and contribute, but $35 is too expensive,” Feliberti said.