HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. - Hendersonville's sports department has been stretched thin by increased demand and population growth in the city.
According to Mayor Jamie Clary, the city can't find enough space to fill the demand for youth sports.
"Just like our roads, just like our infrastructure, we're running out of space at some times," said Clary. "Some teams, instead of practicing twice a week, they're practicing once a week. Some teams are having to practice earlier because we don't have the lights that we need."
The city has 22 soccer fields to serve an estimated 1700 kids, 16 fields for 1200 kids playing baseball or softball, and two football fields for a combined 600 kids playing flag or tackle football. Mayor Clary said they've seen about a 15 percent increase in registration across all sports in the past year.
The city's park director said increased participation has led to other problems as well, such as lots of traffic around the city's main sports park, Drakes Creek Park.
"I've told a lot of folks, that's a good problem to have," said Brandon Rogers. "With lots of participation, and we do, but you have to deal with that congestion and make concessions. The leagues have to make concessions themselves. It's a group effort."
Rogers said even though it's good to have growth, the problems need a solution. The city has been addressing some of the crowding by opening new soccer fields and a lacrosse field at Volunteer Park. However, the mayor has expressed interest in a hockey rink and even more sports facilities.
"I think it would be a huge upgrade for the city to bring in tax dollars, to host events. Not just for local folks, but for people coming out of town for local events," said Rogers.
Some of the infrastructure at Drakes Creek has also been aging. A main building in the ballpark was built in 1978 and has been in need of some repair.
"I think we owe it to the Hendersonville people to give them the best stuff," said Rogers.
Both Rogers and the mayor said they would never turn a child away from playing sports, but finding coaches and space for games and practice can be difficult.
"For the most part, we're able to accommodate them. They don't get all of the time they want for games and all of the time they want on the field, and that's difficult," said Clary.