SILVER SPRING, MD – Montgomery County Planning Board Chairman Derick Berlage named a team of Park and Planning Commission employees last month to mediate disputes between some soccer clubs and the Maryland Soccer Foundation (MSF), the nonprofit organization that manages the SoccerPlex in Boyds.
The SoccerPlex opened in 2000 and has a total of 17 superior quality fields as well as a nationally renowned championship stadium. The facility was formed through public-private partnerships.
Last month, leaders of six soccer clubs who were paying $290 per game to play on fields at SoccerPlex protested when MSF raised the per-game field fee to $300.
In its lease agreement with the Commission, MSF is required to establish and maintain a balanced operating budget. To do so, it raised fees by $10 per game. Currently, no public subsidies or county tax dollars are allocated to fund the operating expenses of SoccerPlex.
To ensure that games scheduled for the fall season go on as planned, MSF agreed two weeks ago to allow the soccer clubs to reserve fields under last year’s agreements. The soccer clubs have verbally agreed to play at SoccerPlex for the fall season but have not signed facility use agreements required to officially reserve the fields.
“Everyone shares one common goal,” explained Trudye Morgan Johnson, executive director of the Commission and a member of the mediation team appointed by Berlage. “And that’s to ensure that the children of this county continue to have access to the highest quality fields at reasonable rates.We’re all working to accomplish that.”
Patti Barney, secretary-treasurer, Adrian Gardner, general counsel and Bill Mooney, chief of the enterprise division are also mediators as are two Montgomery County Council staff members. The group has had ongoing meetings and discussions with the interested parties and will continue to work to ensure that children play on fields at the SoccerPlex.
“We’ll find an agreement. I have very little doubt,” added Johnson.