MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Whitehaven little league football team is benched for the season because they can't afford to play on the field.
Team leaders say they usually pay the Shelby county school district a few hundred dollars a weekend for cleanup services but this year, those service fees skyrocketed to the thousands.
"We probably won't play football this Saturday. I know we worked hard all summer, but we got a little set back going on with the fields," said Corey Armstrong as he talked to his players of the Whitehaven Ravens.
It's a set back the Whitehaven Junior Sports Association coaches weren't expecting.
League president James Ingram said in the past, the league usually paid the Shelby County School district about 500 each Saturday for cleanup services but this year, the overall service fees tripled.
"Last year, we spend about $6,000 for the entire season and I've already spent $5,000 for three games, so I'm already out of my budget," said Ingram.
A spokesperson told FOX13 the district don't charge youth teams to use stadiums and facilities but this year, custodial vendors Service Master and Aramark increased their fees to $28.20 per hour from $24.75 per hour.
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"Out of an abundance of caution and due to reports of some inappropriate behavior, SCS began requiring our Safety Officers at these events this year," said a district spokesperson in a statement to FOX13. The Safety and Security Fee is $39.08 an hour per officer, and SCS requires there be two officers.
"We understand that safety is first but the price that they're charging for these two officers is unbelievable. We're paying almost $900 at Saturday for two officers at a pee-wee football game to me that's overkill maybe one and cut the price down," said Ingram. He said his team hasn't had any issues with police in the past.
SCS said youth teams will also be charged overtime fees if they use the facility for more than eight hours.
Ingram is suspending the season for now until they can figure out where to find some money. It's a major disappointment for the players and the coaches.
"I'm really disappointed we try to do the right thing, give the kids something productive to do, and then we get our legs pulled up under us," said Armstrong. "Memphis doesn't have a lot for the kids to do they took a lot of things and this is one of the few things they still have and now they're trying to take that way too."
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