OKLAHOMA CITY – “You got parents and grandparents that played out here and they have siblings that played out here and grandparents that played out here when they heard the news Tuesday, there were a lot of upset parents,” said volunteer Mark Lovelace.
He’s referring to a meeting he had with Oklahoma City officials Tuesday.
He’s upset because the city is now choosing to step in on operations at the PCAA Fields, that Lovelace says he’s been taking care of now for close to 40 years.
“What upset me was the city hasn’t put a dime into this park over the years, and they’re just gonna walk in and take it over,” he said.
Lovelace says in the past, a city official has always called him every five years to renew the lease.
This year, he said he didn’t hear anything until Tuesday.
“We have a 5-year lease that we always sign and ours was up this year. The city called a meeting and I thought that was to sign a new lease and they informed me that the park- they weren’t gonna renew our lease,” said Lovelace.
The city planning to bring in its own league.
“They said they were gonna bring their inner-city league out here which consists of 40 teams and 80 games a season, and we play over 800 games a season,” Lovelace said.
City officials say they acted strictly based on terms of the document, and say they did try to contact Lovelace.
“It’s certainly an unfortunate situation but one where we have to as a city hold to the binding of the contract,” said Oklahoma City Department of Utilities spokesperson Jennifer McClintock.
She referred to the lease, stating he would’ve had to let the city know 30 days in advance if he wanted to renew.
Mark says it hadn’t happened that way until this year.
“All I know is what the contract itself says and that puts the onus on the leaseholder to renew that contract it could’ve been that we had some employee changes I just don’t know,” said McClintock.
The city mentioned receiving some complaints over the years about parking at the park, and upkeep. Something they also said was the leaseholder’s responsibility, based on terms of the lease.
Everybody’s main concern now, what will happen to the kids and teams that currently play at PCAA Fields?
“Do we have to drive to Edmond, Mustang, somewhere else? It’s convenient for everybody, so that’s my concern,” said concerned parent and coach Brent Giles.
The new league will not move in immediately.
The city discussed letting the current league play there until the fall.
City attorneys are still discussing plans for the current league.
The city says if anyone has any concerns they can reach out to the Parks Department at 405-297-3882.