DALLAS -- For the last four years, President of Dallas Little League Lance Spellman has seen the popularity of his sport grow almost exponentially.
His baseball league has grown from 250 kids in 2010 to 1,400 today. So many, in fact, that for the first time, they capped enrollment.
So many kids are playing ball, the city is simply running out of room.
“Where you practice becomes a real concern -- that’s where the kids actually learn and get better,” Spellman said.
John Jenkins, the assistant director of the Dallas Parks and Recreation Department, said overuse of fields can be an issue if his crews don’t have time do routine maintenance.
“We’re just asking all the user groups to bear with us, because we still have to maintain the fields at the highest level, as far as the quality,” Jenkins said.
The city has 18 baseball fields, but does use a portion of its 105 softball fields for baseball. The real issue, Jenkins said, is that many fields can only be used during the day.
“A lot of them would like to utilize the fields at nighttime, there’s just not enough lights in our system due to the growth of our athletic program across the city of Dallas,” Jenkins said.
As for Spellman, he said they’re not cutting down on games, yet. But he did say coaches are now scrambling to find space to practice.
“We start going on Google Maps and looking at the satellite view and going, ‘Ah, there’s a backstop and grass. Great, that will work for T-ball,’” he said.