Can Fort Worth and Keller both win on sports park?

Posted Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

Topics: Fort Worth

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Seems that Keller is becoming too popular for its own good, and its city officials want Fort Worth to pay for the privilege of playing there.

The question will be, What's a fair deal between neighbors?

Keller is proposing that Fort Worth taxpayers help defray the costs of operating Keller Sports Park, a multisport municipal complex on Golden Triangle Boulevard. The reasoning is that 47 percent of the kids using the park for sports leagues live in Fort Worth, based on 2010 data. (Slightly more than 40 percent of the youth association players live in Keller, and 12.6 percent live elsewhere, according to Keller documents.)

With seven lighted baseball fields; four lighted softball fields; 15 soccer fields (seven of them lighted); two lighted fields for football, T-ball and rugby; and five concession/restroom buildings, the 148-acre park is the kind of amenity any community with sports-minded residents would love to have.

In a recent presentation, Keller City Manager Steve Polasek gave his City Council members a draft letter that proposed seeking $351,226 annually for two years to pay 47 percent of the park's $747,290 maintenance/operation costs. Some members insisted that Fort Worth should also help cover Keller's interest on bonds used to build the facility, which opened in 1996.

Let's call a timeout.

It's not as if Fort Worth families are freeloading. Youth sports leagues charge kids to play, and there are fees to rent fields for games. As one Keller council member pointed out, Fort Worth residents eat and shop and otherwise spend money in Keller, contributing sales taxes toward retiring the bonds.

Representatives of both cities recently had what Fort Worth Assistant City Manager Susan Alanis called a "really friendly meeting" on the issue. Councilman Sal Espino, who represents north Fort Worth, said it could be much cheaper to help with the upkeep and expansion of Keller Sports Park than to spend millions on something new.

Alanis said city staff would probably bring the Fort Worth council recommendations in a month or two. Finding a "win-win" might sound too cliche, but a tie would be better for both cities than one getting the better of the other.

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