As work continues on the sports complex at East LaFollette, the Campbell County Youth Football Association will play home games at LaFollette Middle School.
“(LMS Principal Robbie Heatherly) stepped up and gave us a place to play,” CCYFA President Steve Phillips said. “(He’s) being open armed with the program as far as helping us out. He’s welcomed us up there. He’s (not) set forth any regulations.”
In March, the LaFollette City Council approved spending $60,000 to build a sports complex at East LaFollette that would accommodate baseball, football and soccer games. Much progress has been made at the sports complex as the workers have tried to complete it before football season arrived.
The concessions building has been finished, along with bathrooms, a new fence has been installed around the baseball field, complete with dugouts, and a new press box was built. The CCYFA has held practices there, but isn’t’ ready to host home games yet.
“We was wanting to try to get it this year,” Phillips said. “They’re doing the best they can with what they’ve got to work with. It’s mainly waiting for grass to grow.”
LMS will allow the CCYFA, which competes in the Volunteer Football Conference, to play home games at its football field for the rest of the season. But LaFollette Recreation Department Head Johnny Byrge hopes to complete work at the sports complex in time to host a couple home games.
“Next season we’ll definitely be (at the sports complex),” Phillips said. “I’m 99 percent positive we’ll be playing there on the sports complex next year.”
The CCYFA originally attempted to host home games at Campbell County High School.
“We were told it would be one game; two games possibly,” CCHS Athletic Director Sherry Chapman said.
The CCYFA didn’t agree to the terms set by Chapman and principal Jamie Wheeler.
“We were willing to help them out,” Chapman said. “They just chose to go a cheaper route.”
CCHS normally charges a fee for use of its facilities, Chapman said.
“They weren’t paying to use our facilities,” she said.
But in lieu of the fee, the CCYFA would have had to adhere to a few guidelines.
In order to use the field, Chapman and Wheeler required the CCYFA to pay for the School Resource Officers to handle security and pay for the school’s janitorial staff to clean the field after games had ended.
“We have one of the best football facilities around,” Chapman said. “We just want to make sure it looks good for (our football team) on Friday night.”
Chapman also expressed concerns about the track.
“We have a track that goes around our football field,” Chapman said. “You just can’t turn kids loose on a track with football cleats.”
What broke the deal for the CCYFA was the requirement that CCHS receive profits from concession stand sales.
“They wanted control of the concessions stand,” Phillips said. “We couldn’t give up the concessions stand. That’s money we use for our league. We’re run by what we make at concessions and the gate.”
“It boiled down to cost,” Phillips said. “It was going to be too expensive for us to play there.”
Paying referees, the SROs and janitorial staff without concessions stand money would be too expensive, Phillips said, which is why the CCYFA decided to play home games at LMS.
“It’s not costing us a dime up there,” Phillips said. “Robbie and the middle school are welcoming us up there with open arms.”