About 800 Little League players in Gilbert have yet to secure fields for next season as November registration approaches.
The Town Council’s subcommittee on parks and recreation meets today with three area school districts, in a continued search for fields as the booming town’s parks fail to keep pace with a growing number of children’s leagues.
The Southeast Diamondbacks Little League was formed about a year ago when the Queen Creek Little League became too large for its own fields. The new league is primarily comprised of children living in the Higley Unified School District.
League officials have been meeting with town and school administrators for months, seeking fields to lease. Ideas suggested to solve the problem have included leasing land at Arizona State University Polytechnic, and the town funding $1.5 million in lights for Higley school district fields, so they could be leased by the league.
Town Councilman Les Presmyk said that he expects to reach an agreement with local school districts to let them use their fields.
But as the clock ticks, none of the solutions has come to fruition, and time is running out to prepare fields for the season beginning in March, said league vice president Bobby Howell.
“There’s a lot of panic starting to set in because we’re so close,” he said. “If we don’t have fields, there’s no season.”
Town Councilman Don Skousen, a member of the subcommittee, said the town is struggling to find a solution.
“They just landed in our laps,” he said. “We’re trying to accommodate them as best we can.”
Two youth baseball leagues, the Gilbert American and Gilbert National Little Leagues, have preferential use of fields, thanks to donations to the town when the fields were built. Skousen said it wouldn’t be fair to take away fields from the leagues that have been long established and contributed to the community.
For information, to offer assistance or to contact the Southeast Diamondbacks, visit www.sediamondbacks.com or call (480) 388 9087.
Discussion on youth ballfields
What: Council Subcommittee on Parks and Recreation Services
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Civic Center, 50 E. Civic Center Drive, Room 233