Following a major league drop-off in interest, the city of Union is reassessing how much it charges to field an adult softball team.
After the fee was raised to $400 per team from $325, only one team signed up to play in the first session of 2020, Angie Breeden, program coordinator for the Union Parks and Recreation Department, told the city’s park advisory board at its Thursday, Aug. 27, meeting.
In 2019, 12 teams signed up to play in Union.
“So I’m coming back to you guys to ask you to look at it again, come up with something that’s maybe lower, that’s a happy medium between the two,” she said. “So we can send it back to the board of aldermen to re-evaluate.”
After comparing Union’s fees with other area leagues, the board voted unanimously to lower the fee to $350 per session. The recommendation must still be approved by the board of aldermen.
The softball increase was part of a larger fee increase for various park activities approved in January. Other increases were put in place for lessons and admission at the Splash-N-Swimplex, as well as for sand and indoor volleyball leagues.
Park board members were presented with fees from five softball leagues around the area, ranging from $175 in Sullivan to $440 per team in Lake St. Louis.
The Washington Parks and Recreation Department charges $260 per team for 10 games.
“Wow, that’s a big barrier, if you ask me,” board Chair Suzy Curnutte said.
Pacific also charges $400, but that includes a longer season.
“They pay a fee, and they play until it gets too cold to play,” Breeden said.
Union’s schedule depends on how many teams enter the league, with teams facing each other once per session. The city has two sessions in a year.
“You got 12 teams, they play 11 games,” Breeden said.
A suggestion of selling beer at softball games was made, since other leagues do that. Parks Director Chad Pohlmann said that, while Union got a liquor license to sell beer at tournaments at Veterans Memorial Park, a second license would be needed to sell at the softball complex at 620 E. Park Ave.
Union currently allows adult softball teams and fans to bring their own beer to the games.
Curnutte expressed concern that beer sales might require paying people to sell it.
“It seems to me that we might be spending more money than we make,” she said.