The Siouxland Youth Athletics relinquished its lease of the six softball and youth-sized baseball fields at Riverside Park in the fall of 2022. New bids came from The Arena/Hesse Foundation and Westside Little League, both looking for expansion of softball and possibly baseball programs. A committee created by the City Council recommended awarding the lease to Westside Little League. The Council did NOT follow the recommendation. Instead more meetings were held in the “spirit of cooperation” for field access.
Because the talks did not fully satisfy The Arena's needs, the city then directed more talks, with a NEW “committee” recommending awarding the lease to The Arena. This is NOT an appropriate method of business for the city. The January recommendation is predicated on the number of players “committed,” but not actual signups or 2023 summer registrants for The Arena, which absorbed the SYA. Westside, which is just beginning an official Little League softball program for girls, needs the fields and the ability to get the program off the ground. In fact, Headid Little League is adding Little League softball for girls and may not have enough fields.
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The Council, which is scheduled to vote on the proposed lease Monday, should vote against the measure. No more should the city award this lease to the The Arena, acting under the auspices of the Hesse Foundation, of public park taxpayer-funded land, than it should lease public park land to McDonald's or Starbucks.
Westside has a 50-year charter and deep history in Sioux City. The Arena has been in business for some four years. The city should not prop up a for-profit business over the merits and efforts of Westside, a volunteer, not-for-profit organization. This would set a horrible precedent for the city. -- Bob Protexter, founder and executive director, Total Baseball Development, Sioux City and The Iowa Great Lakes