Making popcorn

Officials with Union’s parks department want more games played at athletic fields before it staffs the concession stands.

According to the city’s new agreement with the Union Soccer Association, which was approved at Monday’s board of aldermen meeting, the association needs to play at least four games over a three-hour period for the parks department to staff the concession stands at Veterans Memorial Park.

“It’s very similar to the agreement that we have with the baseball and softball associations,” Parks Director Chad Pohlmann told members of the board of aldermen at a recent committee meeting.

The soccer association typically plays games on weekends, and the baseball and softball associations play during the week.

Pohlmann said the parks department had been spending a lot of money staffing the concession stands when games were scattered on different nights and not all fields were being used. He said the changes enable the city to save money by reducing the number of nights and hours concession staff work.

In 2020, the parks department had days when it paid employees $160 but brought in $100 less than that in sales during soccer games, Pohlmann said. Baseball and softball did not play seasons in 2020 because of COVID-19.

Pohlmann said in 2019, before he started as parks director, the concession stands brought in between $200 and $300 a night at baseball and softball games. Now they bring in between $1,100 and $1,200 a night because they are scheduling on the same nights. “So you don’t have only baseball out there on Mondays and Wednesdays and softball out there on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” he said.

The changes make it easier for the parks department to schedule its 18-member concession staff, who receive starting pay at Missouri’s $10.30 per hour minimum wage, he said.

The agreement also requires the soccer association use the scoreboards at the athletic fields, which is similar to new requirements for baseball and softball leagues. Pohlmann said the scoreboards cost money, and sponsorships were sold for them, so they should be used.

Not using the scoreboards costs the leagues a $5 per game fine.