A Facebook post by Shasta County Supervisor Les Baugh that stated the California Soccer Park has canceled its spring season had the nonprofit that operates the facility doing some damage control Monday.
“Breaks my heart to hear our local California Soccer Park (part of Big League Dreams) has canceled spring soccer. This is a devastating blow for our youth,” Baugh said Monday morning on Facebook. Baugh’s District 5 does not include the soccer park off Old Oregon Trail in east Redding.
Bryan Erickson, president of the group that operates the California Soccer Park, replied to Baugh on Facebook and told him “we have not been notified that the 2021 Spring Youth Soccer Season has been cancelled.”
Erickson, of the Shasta Regional Soccer Association, told the Record Searchlight early Monday afternoon that he had reached out to Baugh.
Later in the afternoon, Baugh replied on Facebook to Erickson: “Thanks for the conversation today. I appreciate your update and personal insight very much.”
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The California Soccer Park does not have the authority to cancel youth soccer, Erickson said. That’s a decision that will be made by the Redding Youth Soccer League working with the California Youth Soccer Association.
Redding Community Services Director Kim Niemer said she believes a decision on the spring soccer season is a few months away.
“We are still holding out hope for a spring season,” she said.
A Redding Youth Soccer League representative did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.
On Monday afternoon, the league posted a message on Facebook that emphasized the spring season has not been canceled.
“Although a message was on Facebook saying it was canceled, that is not the case. We also work closely with the California Soccer Park and they did not cancel anything for spring either. The decision for that is still months away.”
Erickson acknowledged that the park has limited resources and is struggling financially due to no soccer last spring and the cancellation of the fall season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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But the Shasta Regional Soccer Association is working with the city to bridge the revenue gap created by COVID-19.
“As the organization that manages the park, our expenses don’t stop even though our income has dwindled to zero and that is the dilemma. So we are working through to find a solution,” Erickson said, adding that he did not know where Baugh got his information. “I am hoping to have conversations with him to find a better way to communicate.”
The Shasta Regional Soccer Association’s board will meet with Niemer next Monday.
“There are some resources out there. We just have to be very strategic,” Niemer said of funding solutions.
Last month, the Redding City Council approved amending a $6,000-a-month lease between the Shasta Regional Soccer Association at the city-owned California Soccer Park.
Rent payments totaling $42,000 will be deferred for the period of September 2020 to February 2021. Rent payments would resume March 1, 2021.
Fall is the soccer park’s busiest time. Typically, the soccer park hosts thousands of players annually, with their teams paying to play on the soccer fields.
The soccer park got four new fields this past spring, a $5.15 million project that replaced the four badly tattered synthetic turf fields.
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Erickson said it’s frustrating that kids can’t take advantage of the new fields.
“The park is beautiful and we have amazing new fields, so the park is in a great position from a utilization perspective,” Erickson said.
Baugh did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.
David Benda covers business, development and anything else that comes up for the USA TODAY Network in Redding. He also writes the weekly “Buzz on the Street” column. He’s part of a team of dedicated reporters that investigate wrongdoing, cover breaking news and tell other stories about your community. Reach him on Twitter @DavidBenda_RS or by phone at 1-530-225-8219. To support and sustain this work, please subscribe today.