First time in 11 years, Biloxi charging for sports leagues

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Biloxi parents will have to pay for their children to play in the city's sports leagues. For more than a decade, children and adults could participate in activities like football, baseball, softball and soccer for free. In these tough economic times, Biloxi officials said they had no choice but to start charging fees.

Andrea Borst said she signed her sons Cannon and Cooper up for pee wee football because they can learn a lot from the game.

"I think it teaches your kids team work, effort, all that good stuff," said Borst. "And they like it."

At a registration for the Biloxi Sports league's new season, parents pulled out their cash and checkbooks. That's something they haven't been asked to do in 11 years.

Biloxi Spokesperson Vincent Creel said, "You have to look at the cost. The cost involved here are costs for the maintenance of the fields, the costs for the uniforms, the cost for the closing ceremonies, the costs for the insurance. I mean it adds up and adds up."

"With the budget the way it is right now not only for Biloxi but for all cities, some changes had to be made."

The charge for Biloxi residents is $30 dollars for one child, $50 dollars for two children and $75 for three kids. All the fees are per sport.

"Totally understandable," said parent Kyle Wohlwend. "It's hard times across the nation right now. It's a very nominal fee. $50 for two children to both cheer and play football. Comparatively speaking across the region, across the nation, you can't beat that."

Another parent Sad Carino said, "It's actually not that bad. We came from an area where we were paying about $75 dollars for each child.

"We're used to paying $150 per player in Texas, plus your uniform fee," said Borst.

Biloxi officials say they are concerned the fees might be too much for some of the families of the 3,600 participants. Parents we talked to said they think most families will find a way for their kids to play.

Carino said, "It's all about the kids."

Biloxi officials say non-Biloxi residents will now pay $50 per child, per sport to participate.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.