TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - It has been hard work finding kids a good place to play.
We're talking about organized sports like soccer. There's such a shortage of playing fields, schools are becoming important after-hours places to play.
In Tucson and Pima County, so many kids are trying to play soccer on so few fields, league organizers worry all those feet will wear the fields down to bare dirt.
Ted Schmidt is President of the Pima County Junior Soccer League. He says, “The fields get used to such an extent that if we don't rest them we're playing on dirt and rocks."
It's been a real challenge to get not just good fields, but good fields with lighting for playing at night because that gets more games into a day, and that's when kids have time off from school.
Work crews are removing lights from the grounds of Townsend Middle School, or really, the former Townsend Middle School. TUSD has sold the campus to a private college so now the youth sports programs are ending there.
Now the lights are moving to Booth Fickett Middle School where they will be part of an overall field rehabilitation to make it a much better place to play, including at night.
But lighting a field is expensive.
Ted Schmidt says, “It's the big hurdle. You take one typical soccer field and that could be a half million dollars to put lights on those fields.”
To make sure taxpayers have nothing to kick about, soccer league fees cover the costs of the fields, the lights and the light bills.
Besides Booth Fickett, TUSD already allows players on lighted fields at Doolin Middle School.
But Booth-Fickett just takes the place of former fields at Townsend. Backers hope the city, county and school districts will agree to share more fields, especially ones lighted at night.