Recreation card costs that upset a mother trying to sign her daughter up to Clearwater Little League are not new to the city.
And Jennifer Caldwell is not the first to complain about them.
The mother, who lives in an unincorporated part of Clearwater, tried to sign her 6-year-old daughter up to play in Clearwater Little League. However, she was told that in addition to the $120 league fee for T-ball she would also have to shell out more than $180 for a Clearwater recreation card. If Caldwell lived in the city, the cost of the card is $7.
Clearwater has had the requirement for players in city leagues, which includes Clearwater Little League, for five years, said Joelle Castelli, city spokeswoman. The changes were made during budget reductions, she said.
“That is an annual fee and it covers them playing any sports for the year in our leagues,” Castelli said in an email. “Most cities have a resident fee and a non-resident fee.”
But those changes also have reduced the turnout at Clearwater Little League which is forming its teams with about half as many players as it did a couple years ago, said John Murphy, league president.
“I’ve been dealing with this the last four years,” Murphy said. “Something has to be done about this.”
Murphy said the league had more than 400 players a few years ago when he become president, now there are about 200, he said. He has offered the idea of a seasonal rec card fee and has even floated the fee for players in the past.
Murphy said that while scholarships are available for players, the league still has to come up with the nearly $200 rec card fee. And with more parents out of work, the number of kids needing help to be able to play has increased from about seven to 35, Murphy said.
Two years ago, rec card costs added up to $4,800 out of league coffers.
“That is a big hit to our bottom line,” Murphy said, which will not see revenue from concession sales this season.
That is because of the work to replace the fields at Sid Lickton complex. Clearwater Little League will play its games at Largo Little League and teams will practice at the Countryside Complex.
Because of this, there is some hope for parents in unincorporated parts of Clearwater on a tight budget trying to get their kids into Clearwater Little League.
The Countryside fields were built with help from the county, Murphy said. Because of this, unincorporated residents can pay the resident recreation card fee of $7 to join the league this year.
Still, residents in Belleair who want to play have to pay $180.
Clearwater Little League Important Dates:
- Try outs (AAA, majors, 50/70) - 6:30-9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11, at Largo Little League fields, 600 Lake Ave.
- Try outs (AAA and majors) 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12, at Largo Little League fields, 600 Lake Ave.
- Try outs (juniors and seniors) 6 -10 p.m. Jan. 24 at Ross Norton Fields, 1426 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave.
- Try outs (juniors and seniors) 9 a.m. -1 p.m. Jan. 25 at Ross Norton Fields, 1426 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave.
- Opening ceremony - 10 a.m. Feb. 9 at the Carpenter Field, 651 Old Coachman Road.