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Youth Football Sues for Access to Athletics Complex

Andy Berg

A legal battle over accessibility at a Texas city’s athletics complex forced a youth football league to sue the city over access.

According to the local ABC affiliate, an Anderson County judge ordered the Palestine city manager to “be prepared to go to jail” if he didn’t reopen the facility to the youth football leagues who use it.

The move came after Palestine closed its athletics complex because it wasn’t compliant with “Americans with Disabilities Act” (ADA) laws and had pending litigation.

The youth football leagues that use the facility had a court order, which should have allowed them to regain access, but the city manager was denying it.

“I didn’t come out here yesterday and try to force my hand to come in,” said Carey McKinney, the president of the Anderson County Football League. “I knew the court order was in place, and I had immediate access, but I was giving the city time to come out and change the locks back out.”

When McKinney got to the complex Friday, he was still being denied access. The city manager was there and said she needed to call legal counsel who then told her what the judge had said.  

“He said that if you violate the writ, be prepared to go to jail," said Patsy Smith, the parks and recreation director, in a phone call to the city manager.

The court order says the city manager can request a hearing, but in the meantime, the youth football league can use the complex. For the youth baseball league, it’s a different story.

“We had already started our fall ball season. Of course, now that’s not going to happen,” said Chris Holman, the commissioner for the Palestine Youth Athletic Association. “We’re trying to find other avenues, others cities and other towns, their ball parks. Several of them have reached out to us. This really affects our spring league because we serve 650 kids every year in our spring league, and with them locking us out, where are they gonna go?”

The city’s pending ADA litigation is in the process of being resolved. 

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