Council Takes No Action As Soccer Fight Brews In Raleigh
Posted August 24, 2004 3:00 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — After about 45 minutes of discussion Tuesday, the Raleigh City Council made no decision about changing a 22-year-old agreement between the city and the Capitol Area Soccer League.
Mayor Charles Meeker said the group will meet again in about a month after it has had time to further study the situation.
At issue: public fields and who has first dibs to play on them.
Capitol Area Soccer League
said it pays good money for the right to use the fields. But many people say an agreement CASL struck with the city is unfair.
Nine-thousand kids kick, run and play in the Capital Area Soccer League. It is the powerhouse of soccer, and it controls who plays where and when in Raleigh -- with its teams getting the first chance.
Raleigh signed an agreement with CASL 22 years ago, giving CASL control of fields in exchange for the league's promotion and development of soccer.
CASL CEO Charlie Slagle said his nonprofit organization has delivered, spending $700,000 to build and maintain fields at Dorothea Dix and Whooten Meadows.
"I think we've earned the right on those fields to have first dibs on those," Slagle said.
Slagle said the fields are open to anyone, anytime CASL is not using them. But several other athletic groups said leftover time is limited and that CASL's agreement with Raleigh is unfair to taxpayers who want to use city fields.
Slagle also wants to see the contract reworked. But he said CASL is paying its share -- a third of his $3 million budget pays for fields.
"CASL has done a lot for us," Meeker said. "They ought to have good access to fields. Now, other groups should have access, too. That's the whole point, to make this fair."