Youth football leagues battling for practice fields - WSMV Channel 4

Youth football leagues battling for practice fields

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As thousands of kids get ready to play youth football, some coaches are upset saying public parks are not all that inviting to the public.

The Antioch Falcons walked away with a Tennessee Youth Football Alliance championship, but coaches with the group said they aren't able to find to use a public facility when a team from another organization isn't using it.

"We feel like it's a Metro park and everyone should be able to play there," said Falcons coach James Jones. "If Una is not using it, then someone else should be able to request to use that facility."

Metro Parks interim director Tommy Lynch said his office is being fair. The permit obtained by the Una Bears allows the organization to have scheduling priority for the fields at the Una Recreation Center.

Lynch said Jones was offered alternative days, but he declined. In the past, Jones and his Falcons have used Cane Ridge Park for practice, but this year Metro Parks is working to grow grass in the field. Lynch said there are too few parks and too many teams.

"I wish we could have a park in that area of town right now," said Lynch. "It isn't right to kick existing groups off because new groups want to take their place."

Jones isn't the only coach facing frustrations this season.

Steve Billingslea said it's a stretch for his Middle Tennessee Bulldogs to come up with $300 a month to practice at Metro Parks.

"This is not money that is just sitting around," said Billingslea, whose teams also play in TYFA. "This is money we have to raise in the course of a season."

The Falcons have been offered use of the baseball fields at Cane Ridge for practice times. The Middle Tennessee Bulldogs said Goodpasture Christian School has welcomed them with open arms.

The use permits for Metro Parks last for a year and if teams meet the conditions set, then those permits are usually renewed.

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