Priced Out Of Their League

By: Dana Brueck
By: Dana Brueck

The president of the Madison Soccer Association says the cost to rent a popular city field is out of their league. The city raised the price this season to keep up more closely with rising costs.
Madison soccer players say the field inside Gate One at Warner Park scores high.
"It's very well maintained. It's just a nice place to play. There are stands for people who are there to watch," Don Smith says.
But this spring the president of the Madison Soccer Association has watched the price to play there skyrocket.
"If you want to keep using it, you're gonna have to pony up a lot of cash," he says.
Here's just how much green you need ...
This year, the price went up to $213 per game, or about two hours.
In 2004 it cost $118 to rent the field for 4 hours.
Smith says, "I think we understand maybe the field was underpriced. Our confusion and frustration is just over the dramatic increase of almost four times."
Elinor Riley is with the City Parks Division.
She says, "it was a 4-hour block ... we assumed it was one game. Teams were trying to squeeze in two games ... more wear and tear. This is our way of trying to regulate some use of it."
Riley says Warner Park's amenities justify the higher fees.
"Other fields don't have irrigation, lights, bleachers so it's a lesser fee."
And, Don Smith says, lower quality.
"They're more just a park where they put up a couple of goals, lined paint on grass," Smith says.
He says teams already pay more at Warner to play under lights ... about $50 an hour.
But, Riley says, "the lighting in itself was more than $300, 000 to install here."
Riley says the goal is to recoup much of what it costs to maintain the field, but, even under increased fees, the city does not.
She also says the sport's popularity exceeds the city's supply of turf.
Smith says, "if they weren't recouping their costs at the old price and then somebody might've had a major oversight to leave it at that price for years and years and they must've been losing a lot of money."
Smith says the league will play this season in Verona, but it will host an all-star game at Warner Park this year.


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