STARKE, Fla. -- A local youth sports league is all geared up for the fall season, but has nowhere to play. The Bradford Athletic Association will no longer be allowed to practice, hold games or store equipment at the Bradford Fairgrounds after it was issued a letter by the Fair Association.
Year-round about 200 kids play football and cheerleading with the Bradford Athletic Association, but now the association's board has to return its keys to the gates of the Fairgrounds by May 17.
"The problems that they addressed in that letter, we addressed back in January and we all assumed that we were fine and moved on," said Mark Scott, Athletic Director for the Bradford Athletic Association.
The letter says the group has caused wear and tear on the field, left trash after events, and not had full supervision. Scott's response is that the league has had more adults supervise his teams this spring and says he personally cleans up.
Board members have begun moving out equipment of the storage shed at the Fairgrounds including brand new helmets ordered for the football teams.
Scott says the location has helped local families who can't travel far to take their kids to practice, which is the case for Latrice Slocumb who brings her son to football practice every week.
"It's sad that on Facebook we have Clay County, we have Keystone, we have players from other counties offering us to their field, that's crazy, that we are pretty much homeless in our county," said Slocumb.
The Bradford Fair Association sent First Coast News the following statement:
"The Bradford County Fair Association, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that is funded through profits earned at our annual county fair and the rental of our buildings throughout the year. We are not funded by tax payer dollars. That being said, we have allowed the Pop Warner, the Bradford Athletic Association, city and county police officers, fire department, health department, animal shelter, and local schools to use our facilities free of charge to conduct their practices, teen driving, tactical operations, fundraisers, homecoming float building, and emergency training as well as providing shelter for animals and instances where floods have occurred. We are very much a community oriented board and our decision to part ways with the Bradford Athletic Association came after a year of incidences occurring on our property. Without going into detail and naming names, we made our decision based upon lengthy discussions and doing what we felt was best for our facilities. We have met with their board on numerous occasions and it is only because of our concern for the children that it has taken this long finalize our decision. "
The fall season starts Tuesday. Veteran player Isaiah Crum, 12, says he's sad to move and hopes the league will find a new space soon.
"I have a lot of memories," said Crum. "I've met most of all my friends out here."
Scott says he plans to bring up the issue at a city hall meeting on Tuesday to try and find a space to practice in the city. He also plans to hold sign-ups for fall season in the parking lot.