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In-Depth: Cleveland youth baseball field issue leaves teens in the middle

In-Depth: CLE youth baseball field issue leaves teens in the middle
CLE youth baseball field controversy
Posted at 10:46 PM, Mar 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-04 23:28:11-05

CLEVELAND — Some Cleveland city council members are concerned after an on-going controversy could keep hundreds of inner-city teens from playing at Talty Field at Brookside Reservation on the cities west side.

Ward 16 Cleveland Councilman Brian Kazy told News 5 Talty Field was renovated by Major Leauge Baseball and Indians legend Jim Thome as part of the 2019 All-Star Legacy Initiative, with the stipulation that the field be used primarily by Cleveland Schools inner-city youth.

Kazy said because the city has been slow in approving and permitting city baseball this year due to COVID-19 concerns, it's caused the Cleveland Metroparks to allow St. Ignatius High School to book many dates for the field in 2021.

He said it could closeout students from John Marshall and Bard High School, both in his ward, from using the field this year.

"To have the Metroparks and the city not working collaboratively, to have our kids thrown off the field basically," Kazy said.

“We’ve got West Dennison, we’ve got Tri-Leauge, we have Puritas, all waiting for the city to come up with a plan for opening up these fields.”

“It’s the time of the year where we need to register these youth, and we have to assure, as elected officials that these kids have something to do this summer.”

"I’m hoping that an agreement can be made where our youth, with the Cleveland Municipal School District, will be able to use that field.”

“The city, who is dragging their feet in permitting, and it’s not a good look on the Metroparks, who are coming in trying to play big brother.”

Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley agreed and is urging the city and the Cleveland Metroparks to work out a solution.

“This is too important for adults to mess-up a kids game," Kelley said.

“Our goal shouldn’t be who gets it and who doesn’t, it should be how do we get everybody on this field.”

The Cleveland Metroparks quickly responded to our story and said it reached out to the city recreation manager on numerous occasions but never received a response.

The Cleveland Metroparks issued the following statement:

"There seems to be a misunderstanding per the lease Cleveland Metroparks has with the city. Cleveland Metroparks is looking to support all baseball and youth activities at Brookside Park.

Cleveland Metroparks has reached out to the City of Cleveland on multiple occasions to discuss scheduling and activation of their youth baseball programming and confirmed the City had no teams activated at the time Cleveland Metroparks booked youth games.

We have the ability to program the fields per the lease and did move forward in that regard, as the mayor has allowed no permits for the City of Cleveland to schedule such activities.

There is still a tremendous amount of availability for youth to enjoy the fields. We look forward to working with the city when they
indicate they are set to resume programming and want to ensure the fields at Brookside are activated and used to the highest ability."

News 5 reached out to the Cleveland mayors office in an attempt to reach the city recreation manager, but we're still waiting for a response.

Meanwhile, Kazy believes Cleveland's youth have been placed in the middle of a stalemate.

“While this is being caught up in who has the right, and it’s caught up in law department, and who is going to be able to do this, the only people who this is hurting is our kids," Kazy said.