Ground hasn't been broken on a $7 million indoor sports arena in Pasadena, but already people are squabbling over who will use it.
Parents of young athletes rejoiced two weeks ago when the Lake Shore Arena Limited Partnership received preliminary county approval for a hockey and soccer center at the Lake Shore Athletic Complex.
But their mood changed when arena officials announced that one recreation group would have first crack at all floor times.
"We felt that we owed it to the Lake Shore Recreation Council, since they are the ones that are being impacted by the arena," said James Renner, general partner of Lake Shore Investment Group, which will supply the money to build the center.
The complex, to be built on a 59-acre site at a county-owned park, would include an indoor soccer field and two ice skating rinks, one the size of a National Hockey League rink and the other Olympic-sized.
"We offered them the opportunity to come in and utilize as much time as they need," Renner said of the arrangement with Lake Shore. "Our [policy] was not to let outside entities in first. No one from Bowie or Howard County will come in and displace our local teams."
That decision has angered local organizers from other youth athletic groups.
"That's garbage," said Lynn Mathias, recording secretary of Fort Smallwood Soccer, which serves more than 300 children. "I don't think that is fair to any rec council in the area, and I don't think it's fair to the children."
George Cosper, director of sports for the Greater Severna Park Athletic Association, agreed.
"It bothers us," he said. "Late at night is something that we would not want, and the children are at school during the day. There's only so much time between them for the children."
Heavy demand for fields
Demand for indoor soccer fields is skyrocketing. Organizations such as the Severn Athletic Club and the Greater Glen Burnie Junior Sports League supervise as many as 600 soccer players a season.
Teams seeking time at the Myers Soccer Pavilion in Brooklyn or )) the Du Burns Soccer Facility in East Baltimore have been turned away because of high demand.
Weekday evening and weekend field times at the Broadneck Sports Complex, a 22,500-square-foot indoor multipurpose field that opened last month in Annapolis, are booked until the last week of February.
Guaranteed field time
County Councilman Thomas W. Redmond, a Democrat who represents Pasadena and supports the project, said he lobbied arena officials to guarantee field time for his youngest constituents.
"When they go to Du Burns or Myers, they usually get bumped out," Redmond said. "They won't get bumped out anymore."
But that also means that teams from Crofton, Glen Burnie and Severna Park will have to wait until the Lake Shore Recreation Council fills slots before they can apply for remaining times.
Paul Dame, a member of the 600-player Arundel Soccer Association's board, warned that preferential scheduling for Pasadena groups might persuade other recreation councils not to frequent the arena.
"If I was looking for a facility to compete in, I would try to apply to a facility that I know I could get in on equal footing," Dame said.
Questions about lease
Athletic directors of youth groups also question why Anne Arundel would lease the property to a private concern.
Tony Pappas, president of St. Jane Soccer, suggested that the county might be better off selling the property and using the profit to repair dilapidated fields at Tick Neck Park and Kinder Park.
"The county definitely needs money to update and renovate fields," he said. "This is an excellent opportunity to take some very valuable land and do something with it."
Others question the proposed agreement between Lake Shore and the county, which would allow the investors to run the center for a number of years, then turn it over to the county.
The partnership would pay the real estate taxes based on the assessed value of the 59 acres and the building.
'Let's do it fair'
Thomas Gooldy, who as president of Athletics Opportunity Inc. runs the Broadneck Sports Complex, said he would oppose any artificially low rent, such as $1 a year.
"The county's paying for the roads and the water and the sewage, and they're only going to lease it to them for a dollar a year?" he asked. "I don't really care [if] the county is doing this, but let's do it fair."
Robert Pollock, senior assistant county attorney, declined to discuss the specifics of the negotiations between Lake Shore and the county, but he said he expected the lease to be signed as early as next month.
Pub Date: 1/26/97