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Tournaments Apr 25, 2014

Sources: Fairfax County (Va.) set to increase field fees nearly tenfold

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UPDATE: SoccerWire.com learned after the original posting time of this piece that the Fairfax County Supervisors voted down both the proposed tournament fee increase, and per-player fee increase discussed in this article.

Fairfax County is set to dramatically increase its charges for teams and players who use publicly-managed sports fields in the county, sources tell SoccerWire.com.

Feeling the pressure from heavy facilities use and the rising long-term costs of synthetic-turf field maintenance and replacement, Fairfax is apparently prepared to raise its team fee from $15 to $100 and its per-player fee, a fee of about $5 typically charged to clubs and leagues, by around 50 percent.

These steps are intended to address a budget shortfall of over $100,000, which is apparently driven mainly by spiraling increases in the costs of turf maintenance.

[ +READ: John O’Sullivan on the race to nowhere in youth sports ]

“They are charging us basically the same amount as the other counties, but they’re not going to give us any additional services,” said one source, speaking anonymously due to the sensitive nature of their relationship with the county and expressing frustration at what they believe is an extractive attitude from public officials. “They’re just looking for ways to bring in extra dollars.”

The same source claimed that Fairfax usually lags well behind nearby districts in terms of the services provided in terms of trash services, restroom maintenance, snack bars and the assignment of on-site assistance from parks and rec employees.

Fairfax County, which typically charges leagues and tournaments on a per-team rather than per-hour basis, has traditionally kept these fees lower than neighboring municipalities like Arlington, Prince William and Loudoun counties, mindful of the huge economic activity that accompanies youth and adult sports events.

But it appears that more pressing concerns have won out.

Like many others across the region and beyond, Fairfax has made a major investment in all-weather turf fields in recent years, lauding their durability under heavy traffic and rainfall levels.

[ +READ: SoccerWire Q&A: NYCFC’s Claudio Reyna on youth national teams, technical development, Tab Ramos ]

But as earlier generations of these fields age, some harsh realities are emerging about their costs.

Many manufacturers advertise a lifespan of 10 years for their surfaces. But depending on usage patterns and upkeep, many are wearing out after only five years or so, causing major changes in the budgetary picture for already-cash-strapped parks and recreation departments.

SoccerWire.com has reached out to Fairfax County officials for comment or further information on this topic and will provide updates as they become available.

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