By Denise Dick
A youth football league wanted to use the new Rayen Stadium to host its championship, but the price proved too steep.
Nate Armstrong, president of the Northeast Ohio Youth Football League, said he contacted the city school district athletic office and was told the cost would be $2,500.
“I was a little bit astonished to hear that,” he said.
It’s more than the league, composed of seven teams of 70 to 90 kids age 6 to 13, can afford. The league includes three teams from the city, two from Warren and two from Mercer County.
“We really try to find something that’s free,” said Armstrong, who also is president and head coach of the West Side Patriots. “We’re a nonprofit, and it’s for the kids.”
He said the league also would have to pay for security by city police officers.
Ed Matey, school district athletic director, said the $2,500 amount includes security. It pays for 11 security officers, the number used during a high school game, as well as custodians and other personnel. The number of officers required is based on the crowd, so it could be lower for some games.
Ursuline High School paid $2,500 when it played one of its home games earlier this year at the newly renovated stadium on Ohio Avenue.
But groups such as Armstrong’s can appeal to the school board for a lower fee, Matey said.
The Volney Rogers Youth Football League did that and lowered the fee to $1,900, he said.
Organizations that use the stadium have to provide ticket sellers and ticket takers as well as people to monitor gates during their events and someone to run the scoreboard if the league wants to use the press box.
Last year, NEOYFL used Austintown’s Fitch stadium for its Super Bowl for between $400 and $500, Armstrong said.
The league is divided into divisions based on age. One division is for players age 6 to 8, one for players age 9 and 10 and one for 11- through-13-year-olds.
Neither the teams nor the families have a lot of money, the president said.
Each team pitches in to pay for league insurance, and the only money generated by teams comes from concessions and donations from individuals or businesses.
After talking to the city school district, Armstrong called Cardinal Mooney High School to inquire about using that field.
“I talked to the principal, Mr. [John] Young, and he’s going to allow us to use the field for free,” he said. “We have to supply our own security and pay the guy that’s going to run the clock.”
The league also will have to cover any other costs.
The Super Bowl is set for Oct. 21.
Armstrong said the league hopes to one day have its own field so it doesn’t have to call around to different high schools every year, asking to use their stadiums or fields.