RALEIGH, N.C. — For 22 years, the city of Raleigh has let dues from the
Capitol Area Soccer League
The league owes the city money. But no one seems to care.
Some say the league has a monopoly on public fields in Raleigh.
The debate boils down to who controls the fields.
A field near Dorothea Dix Hospital is one of two fields that CASL helped develop. But there are 16 other fields the league also gets to play on before anyone else.
Now, other groups are making a play to change that.
When it comes to soccer in Raleigh, CASL controls who plays where and when. Under a 22-year old agreement with the city, CASL promotes and develops soccer in exchange for first dibs on fields.
If any fields are left over, other soccer and athletic groups get a shot.
"Half the team doesn't know when to play," softball player James Auerbach said. "It's hard to reach everybody on the phone or by e-mail when we don't find out until so late."
Auerbach's softball team is among the groups protesting Raleigh's exclusive agreement with CASL, saying it is unfair to taxpayers who would like to use city fields.
"Open space is at an extensive premium in our community, and the citizens are entitled to that open space to play on, too," former parks board member Wayne Marshall said.
Marshall headed a two-year study of the agreement.
"It was a contract in writing, but not a contract in fact," Marshall said.
Marshall's committee found that the agreement has not been lived up to. Raleigh never forced CASL to properly maintain fields, and it never has collected a $2 user fee for non-resident players.
City Manager Russell Allen said the city reaped other benefits instead.
"Of course, the city has not had expenses for programming of soccer," he said, "and CASL has brought to the table other additional resources to developing fields that the city has had use of."
A city council committee will be meeting Tuesday to talk about CASL's agreement with the city. The advisory committee has several recommendations: