Teams scramble to find places to play after drought closes Denver fields

4:18 PM, Feb 23, 2013   |    comments
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DENVER - Organized sports leagues are scrambling to find places to play.

The City of Denver blames extreme drought conditions for the decision to close all the fields.

Even with snow on the ground and more expected to fall Saturday night, the Denver Parks and Recreation department says the fields are much too dry for any type of sports play right now.

League leaders are tackling the huge task of shuffling schedules so all the kids can play.

It's putting the season in limbo for thousands of young athletes, like 14-year-old soccer player Brittany Mankus.

"My friends and I are pretty upset and worried," Mankus said.

Saturday was supposed to be a game day for Mankus' soccer team United White.

"I'm really shocked and disappointed. I've never had this happen to me before," Mankus said.

Mankus and 2,000 other Skyline soccer players got the news this week that the wear and tear of organized sports could tear up the turf on Denver's dry fields, posing huge problems for the busy summer season.

"I just wish this wasn't happening but I totally understand why this is happening," Mankus said.

Jeff Green with Denver Parks and Recreation says the department made the tough call to close all the fields, at all the parks, until conditions improve.

"It's a difficult decision but we had to do it. We absolutely feel this is the right decision to protect the health of our fields," Green said.

John Mankus with Skyline soccer says it's been a frenzy finding fields for all the scheduled games

"Our staff is working literally all day, every day. We're being creative and looking at the schedule and trying to find ways to make it work," Mankus said.

He says some of the solutions include playing games in surrounding cities, and exploring the use of public school facilities.

Britney Mankus, who has been playing soccer since she was 6, just wants to get on the field with her friends and play.

"We love it so much and we hope that the fields can open up and we can have a good season," Mankus said.

Baseball and softball will be allowed back on the fields on March 18.

Soccer and volleyball will have to wait until April 1.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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