Imagine this scenario - You are tasked with scheduling more than 1,500 games, divided by 11 fields, and nearly as many age groups. All games to be played in a 6-week time frame. Your compensation is low, and you are the target for all complaints from parking to poor coaching. Is this something you would be interested in?
Add to that maintaining fields as well as preparing them for game days. Throw in roles as a mediator, bouncer, scapegoat, and babysitter to a degree. We should also remind you that you will do this in desert conditions most years and current restrictions on watering will apply.
Anyone willing to do it? Not many of us would.
However, the Altus Recreation Department is saddled with this task every summer so the Youth of Altus and the surrounding communities can play baseball.
Most of us attending games at Missile Park earlier this summer have no doubt seen the conditions of the fields laden with goat heads, stickers, hardened base paths, dangerously high infield lips, and mounds that simply do not live up to their name.
Most have probably said, “Look at all the gate revenue. Why can’t the fields be in better shape”? I know I’ve said it every night my son played there.
The answer to that question is, of course, they can be in better shape. However, under the current setup, the Altus Recreation Department is not allowed to keep the revenue it generates. According to Craig Tockey, who for over 30 years has been involved in providing recreational events for area youngsters, participation is up in recent years and will rise again this year.
“The City of Altus has never seen the kind of revenue we generated this year,” Tockey said. “We’ve expanded the season an extra two weeks and we have more kids playing than we have had in the past.”
Tockey speculated that an average of $1,500-$2,000 was generated by baseball alone each night games were played.
“The problem for us is all that revenue goes into the general fund and that’s fine. However, when we need some of that fund to improve the mounds, fix scoreboards or run equipment, our requests run alongside other necessities for the City. If you see a request for a new fire engine or police cruiser next to something listed under recreation, you can see how the recreation facilities often lose that battle,” said Tockey.
Perhaps that may change soon. Councilman Michael Beason has placed an item on tonight’s City Council meeting agenda that may be the change Tockey is looking for. The item in summation states that Recreation should be able to keep a portion of its revenue for facility upgrades.
Beason, the young ball players in the area along with their parents, grandparents and Recreation Department employees, applaud this effort.
“It’s about giving the kids an opportunity to play,” Tockey expressed. “It’s all about the kids.”