RALEIGH, N.C. — Dozens of people packed a Raleigh City Council committee meeting Tuesday to demand change.
The issue: the Capitol Area Soccer League's sole control of public fields.
Raleigh has had a long-standing contract with CASL to promote soccer in the city. But after 22 years, even the head of the program admits it is time for change.
"Should this contract be altered, changed, whatever?" CASL CEO Charlie Slagle asked. "Absolutely."
Slagle appeared before city leaders Tuesday to say he had no problem with them reworking a 22-year old contract.
Under the agreement, CASL runs the city's soccer program in exchange for getting the first shot at the fields. With soccer growing by leaps and bounds, other sports have been kicked to the sidelines.
"How do we get fields?" asked lacrosse player Adrian Pomilio. "We're always being told there's no space, 'we're working on it.'"
An advisory committee started "working on it" two years ago. Its study found that, while dominating the city's multi-use fields, CASL has not been properly maintaining them.
Also, although CASL charges each team for playing, it has not collected and paid the city a $2 user fee for non-residents.
"Should there be a user's fee?" Slagle said. "Yeah, and it probably should be more than it is."
Mayor Charles Meeker opposes the non-resident user's fee and may take away some of CASL's dominance on the field.
"Kids from Raleigh go play in other towns in Wake County and don't get charged," Meeker said. "Why should we charge people who come here?"
The city council committee did not take any action Tuesday. Meeker said he would like to review it further and hear from more people before deciding what should be done.
"It is time to take a fresh look at the fields," Meeker said. "There are all kinds of groups that want to use them in addition to soccer. While soccer may be the predominant use, it shouldn't be the only use."