The Pasadena Pony Baseball League’s first game of the season for youth players aged 13-14 was put on hold Monday when the city’s parks director instructed workers to turn out the lights at Gardner Field.
At a meeting on Tuesday, parks director Kirby Cardenas told city council members that the city cannot afford the maintenance costs to keep up that field (more than $2,000 per week) for an age group with low participation (26 players).
However, the city has already signed a rental agreement with the Pony League granting them access to the fields for the duration of the season and promising to keep the fields in good working condition, and the league has upheld their end of the bargain.
League supporter David Turner told the Houston Chronicle, "It's true our numbers are down for the teenage players. But, we have a schedule. We have a team there and we're working to build the team up. Yet, they're being told they don't want them here and to go to Deer Park and play on their fields."
According to Turner, this is not the first breach of contract on the part of the city. He says the parks department no longer marks the diamond with chalk, making it more difficult for officials to make accurate calls. He also says the lights over the right outfield were burned out and not replaced before the start of season.
City council member Sammy Casados, representative for the north-side district that is home to Gardner Field, suspects that the fields are purposefully being allowed to fall into disrepair. "I really believe the parks department is trying to squeeze the north-side leagues to the point it's so difficult to even have a league that they leave to play somewhere else," he said.
"We just spent $2.5 million on a federal voting rights lawsuit that found the city's voting system was discriminatory toward Latinos, and here we have a Pony League baseball team where all the members are Hispanic and live on the north side and the lights aren't even being turned on for their games.”
As of Wednesday, the Pony League was unsure whether they would be able to play that night’s scheduled game. Casados has been calling for Cardenas’ resignation, saying, “He didn't give the league any written notice that this was going to happen. That's not how we do business with the citizens of Pasadena.”