Aiken County youth football parents voice concerns on field cost

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 6:48 PM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - Kids in Aiken are having a hard time playing their youth football games, all because of money problems.

The youth football team has two options. Pay thousands of dollars in maintenance fees to Aiken County to use the local high school or drive to Wagener-Salley.

When a new factor came into play this offseason, parents were ready to throw a flag.

“For years, this is all we’ve known. Now they’re going to something completely different,” said Center Chief Parent Diane Shealy.

Aiken’s Youth Football League wanted to use the field at South Aiken and Aiken High School for 32 nights this season for a total of 128 hours. But it’s expensive, amounting to more than $90,000.

“Where we come from, our team does the best they can. They can’t afford that,” she said.

Aiken’s Advisory Council granted a waiver for the rental fee, but that still left the league with a $26,000 tag for utilities, toiletry items, and custodial fees, leaving the Chiefs out of a game field.

“They have scattered us out to Wagner to Ellington to Citizens Park, and you know, trying to find those fields, in the beginning, was one of the big issues. We kind of have to defend ourselves to see our children play for their games,” she said.

Wear and tear on the tires and the kids.

Linda Williams is another Center Chiefs Parent. She said, “A lot of parents are saying they’re not gonna let their kids play football next year. My kids don’t like that. My daughter wants to do cheerleading next year, and I don’t know, because I don’t know how the traveling is gonna be.”

Shealy says without football...

“We don’t have anything. It’s going to make them grow up to get into trouble, do things they shouldn’t do, instead of having their mind focused on ‘we have this to look forward to after school’,” she said.

The City of Aiken has been working to right the situation for the teams. The city permitted the use of Odell Weeks center and Generations Park for games this season.

Statement from ACPSD Chief Officer for Operations and Student Services Dr. Corey Murphy: