The cost of playing baseball in Lincoln County

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, March 8, 2023

The clink of a leather-wrapped ball against an aluminum bat is just one of the many sounds associated with baseball. Another sound some Dixie Youth baseball parents in Lincoln County associate with the spring sport is “cha-ching.”

The cost to sign up for diamond fun at the Lincoln Civic Center Baseball Complex is $95 per child. Parents must then sell — or buy themselves — $120 in fundraiser tickets for cookies, bringing the total per child to $215.

“The ballpark, built with tax dollars, is losing money and instead of managing expenses better they are passing the financial burden on to parents,” one angry parent said, who preferred to remain unidentified. “As a taxpayer, I’m paying three times for the privilege of using the ballpark — my tax dollars built the field; the $95 to play; and the $120 fundraiser.”

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The parent said if the fundraiser tickets are not sold, the child cannot play ball the following year, and that a parent who complained about the process was previously banned from the ballpark. A grandparent complained at a Board of Supervisors meeting in 2022, but was assured by the county it only costs $95 to play.

“I am not the only parent upset about this,” the parent said. “Hundreds of kids play ball out there, so this affects a lot of people. Taxpayers should know how their ballpark is being managed.”

The physical assets of the park are owned by the county, and a single line-item contribution is made to the Civic Center annually. For Fiscal Year 2022-2023, the Center requested $281,285 from the county. County Administrator Daniel Calcote recommended $265,385, which includes an insurance premium increase over the previous year’s contribution of $254,626. The Board approved the recommended budget amount.

The current budget for the Baseball Complex lists revenue of $79,545 in premium charges and $162,897 in sales income. Total fund receipts and disbursements (including liabilities) both equal $264,942.

LCC director Chaston Bullock stepped into the role Jan. 1, 2023. He was hired in December to replace Quin Jordan, who resigned after 16 years as director.

Bullock said he understands the frustration of parents at the cost, but said the money does not fully offset the Center’s costs and is comparable to other Dixie Youth programs in the state.

“The money raised from fees and fundraisers goes to help offset the cost of uniforms — hats, shirts, belts, socks — and catching gear, to pay umpires, and to pay for what happens on the field. The majority of it is for equipment,” Bullock said. “The county doesn’t pay for any of that. The budget doesn’t even cover our payroll. It all goes toward bills, and we pay for pretty much everything.”

Parents are responsible for providing their child’s shoes/cleats, pants, catching and batting gloves, and bats.

“When someone talks to me about the cost, I ask, ‘What do you think is a reasonable price?’ and ‘Have you looked at other prices?’” Bullock said. “I believe we are right along with the national average. It takes a lot to play baseball, and we try to keep our prices as low is we can. (That) is our main goal. It’s not cheap. But we do try to keep it as low as possible.”

Bullock said he hopes families will be able to participate — either as athletes or spectators — and enjoy the baseball season.

“I hope everybody comes out and has a good time.”