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Raleigh Aims To Put Sports Participants On Level Playing Field

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RALEIGH, N.C. — For more than 20 years, the

Capital Area Soccer League

dominated Raleigh's public playing fields.

On Tuesday, a City Council committee voted unanimousl to take the scheduling of city fields out of the hands of CASL.

Under CASL's current contract, the league promotes soccer in Raleigh in exchange for control of the fields. Other groups who want time on the fields complain CASL unfairly controls their use.

"The fields belong to our citizens here and everyone needs to have reasonable access," said Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker. "There's no question soccer has been very successful and has had a lot of use of those fields, but should not have exclusive use of any of our fields."

Under a new plan, the city parks department will take over the scheduling of city fields. Representatives of all sports would meet with park officials at least twice a year to determine who plays on which field and when.

"We'll have to consider what our department needs are for the city for Parks and Recreation, and then allocate what we can on an equitable basis to the remainder of the interests," parks superintendent Randy Ray said.

"I think they're city fields, so the city should control them. I think it's going to be better for everyone," said James Auerbach, who plays softball.

People involved in other sports are not the only ones applauding the move. Even CASL agrees its time has come.

CASL CEO Charlie Slagle said he is open to a more equitable system, but is determined not to let soccer suffer.

"A 1982 contract needs to be changed, and when we get the new contract, it'll be great," he said.

Slagle said the plan lifts some of the burden from his organization in terms of scheduling.

The new plan does away with a user fee for nonresidents and directs city staff to find land to develop more fields in areas such as Brier Creek and the Wake County landfill, which is set to close.

The recommendation goes before the full council next Tuesday.


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