Alabaster weighing options after surge in city sports leagues

Alabaster has seen a rise in enrollment in its youth sports leagues over the past few years. (File)

Alabaster has seen a rise in enrollment in its youth sports leagues over the past few years. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Once all of Alabaster’s fall city sports leagues are up and running this year, it will bring one of the highest enrollments Parks and Recreation Director Tim Hamm has ever seen.

“If it’s not the most kids we’ve ever had, it’s right there at it,” Hamm said with a laugh on Sept. 4. “We are looking at about 400 kids for soccer, about 450 for football and cheerleading and about 250 for basketball. So in total, you’re running up on 1,100.”

Over the past several years, Alabaster has seen a steady rise in its city sports league enrollment, with the biggest jump coming in last year’s basketball enrollment. In 2012, the city saw about 100 more kids in the basketball program than it did in 2011.

“I usually project a 10 percent increase in enrollment each year just to be safe. That’s about what we’ve been seeing each year,” Hamm said. “But we had a huge jump in basketball last year.”

The higher enrollment is starting to place a strain on some of the city’s sports facilities. This year, some football teams are practicing in the outfields of the Thompson High School and city baseball fields.

“We are tight right now. We just lighted those soccer fields, so that’s helped out a lot,” Hamm said. “A lot of folks are using what we’ve got, but we have some great people working the schedules to allow us to let everyone practice.”

City Council President Scott Brakefield said the council is looking to take steps in the future to help alleviate overcrowding at the sports facilities.

“It’s something in the very near future that the city is going to have to look at. What can we do to accommodate everyone?” Brakefield said. “We don’t want to get to a point where we’ve got to turn kids away or limit the number of kids who can participate.”

“Tim and everyone at Parks and Rec are doing a great job juggling everything right now,” Brakefield added.