For years, adult softball at the Ken Mercer Sports Park in Pleasanton has been an incredibly popular program.
During the softball seasons, teams stormed the Sports Park up to five or six nights a week, with games taking place from 5 p.m. up to after 10 p.m.
Local businesses like bars or pizza parlors benefitted from the softball teams taking over their establishments following their games.
Then COVID hit and like just about everything in society, it took a hit. The softball leagues disappeared for a while, and in turn the local businesses suffered.
Recently things have looked ready to come back to life. The numbers were down for softball -- there are still over 80 teams across the board -- and the businesses like Hop Yard Alehouse & Grill, Porky's Pizza Palace and the Sunshine Saloon began to see a resurgence.
Now there may be a hit again.
On Dec. 8, the Pleasanton Recreation Department sent notice to all adult softball managers that the spring and summer seasons for 2023 are going to be postponed.
The reasoning? Several months ago, the Pleasanton City Council approved the construction of a much-needed cricket field at the Sports Park.
The construction is set to begin in spring 2023 and may cause a hiccup in youth sports.
The construction zone for the cricket pitch is larger than the field space, with one hard ball field and three soccer/softball fields being impacted.
In order for no interruption of the youth sports, the city will be moving the playing spaces over to the softball complex.
With the youth sports moving to the softball complex, the city made the decision to postpone both the spring and summer adult softball seasons and tried to help the softball teams that have been misplaced.
"Letting the adult softball participants know of the postponement early, allows those who wish to play in other city leagues enough time to register and not miss a season of play," was written in an email from the city. "Staff proactively sent out a list of other local city softball leagues to all adult softball players to aid in this effort. There is potential that a scaled-down season could be played once the construction and power impacts are fully known and field space needs better determined."
Some team managers have found no issue with the postponement, but others not so much.
Joe Silva, a longtime Pleasanton resident who has raised his children in town, watched them play youth sports, and coached them as well. Silva recognizes the need for both a cricket pitch and an uninterrupted youth season.
"You have to play the kids games," Silva said. "And there is no doubt there is a need for a cricket pitch."
But Silva's main point is that there should be an easy fix to keep the softball leagues and be able to move the youth sports teams to the softball complex.
"The fields (for softball) are not being fully used," Silva explained. "The math is easy. The youth sports could be played in their normal time-frame and the adults could play afterwards. It shouldn't be a problem to make it work. I could solve this problem in 30 minutes."
Looking at it logically, Silva does make a solid case, but information from the city at this point is slow in coming. Instead of an open round table to work together, Pleasanton is taking a very cautious approach.
When I pushed, I got a safe and cautious response.
"At this point, that is all we can do with the information we have," said Heather Tiernan, the new communications manager for Pleasanton. "As we know more about the impact when we know more about the construction timeline."
There are some basic questions that have been asked by Silva, but at this point it appears the only solution is the adult leagues will be postponed.
If you look at the numbers and the timeline, it does look like this can be worked out to take care of the youth sports, adult softball and the much-needed cricket pitch.
Everyone wins and no group suffers.
There is also a lighting issue with the softball fields and that seems it should be on the front of all projects to better serve both youth and adult events on the softball fields.
This is a fluid situation and there could be something done to appease all groups, but time is of the essence. A cooperative dialogue needs to be opened and the sooner the better.
Make sure to keep checking back, and we will keep you updated.
Editor's note: Dennis Miller is a contributing sports writer for the Pleasanton Weekly. To contact him about his Pleasanton Preps column, email [email protected]
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