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The cost to play: How community ball programs compare

By Wendy Sweeter

Recently questions have been raised about what the $100 fee to play baseball in Tea in the 9-10 and 11-12 age divisions covers.

The city of Tea and this newspaper received anonymous letters questioning what that fee covers. Tea Park & Rec board member and commissioner of the Prairie Grass League that schedules the two divisions, Jeff Portner, wants people to know how they spend that money.

At signup, baseball players in those divisions sign up to play in Tea and the four other communities involved in the league. Each town has a different fee they charge their players.

Tea charges $100 plus a 100 percent refundable $20 jersey deposit. Lennox charges $90, Parker is at $40. Worthing charges $35 for 9-10 and $45 for 11-12 and Canton charges $25. Portner also pointed out that the Sioux Empire Baseball Association (SEBA) charges $135 to play. He noted that each town has a little something to offer through its rec baseball team.

Coaches for the teams in all of the towns are volunteers. Portner does not get paid for scheduling games for the league.

In Tea, the fee covers the cost of a hat, belt, ball pants, helmets, bats, balls, paying umpires and the cost of keeping up the ball fields. He notes that players need to show up with a glove and shoes and the city supplies the rest. Jerseys are used for a few years in a row before being replaced.

Tea has five teams in the 9-10 division and three teams in the 11-12 division.

“I would like to understand what they feel like they’re getting for an experience. What do they think it would cost to do the things we just described we were doing,” Portner said. “We try to keep it affordable for people. I know $100 is a lot of money for people. I’m not disputing that. People try to compare playing baseball to other town experiences which is like comparing apples to oranges in some cases.”

In Lennox, their $90 fee goes to cover jerseys, coaches equipment, balls, paying umpires, field maintenance and paying their part-time park and rec administrator. Players have to supply their own helmet, pants, cleats and glove. Lennox Park & Rec board member Jason Foss said kids do not need to have their own bat because the city has some, but many bring their own bat.

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