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Senior Olympics struggle to find venues for North County games

By Tony Cagala
COAST CITIES — “It’s like that old movie with Kevin Costner, ‘Field of Dreams,’” said Danny Propp, San Diego Senior Olympics executive director. “If you build the fields, they’ll come. And like I keep telling our politicians, ‘Hey, if we don’t have the venues available, how in the world can we invite these wonderful athletes from all across the United States?’”
Almost everywhere the Senior Olympics organization has gone in North County, they’ve had trouble securing access to playing fields to hold their games.
“We’ve always had a little political support…it’s just the thing of awareness.”
Propp has already started looking for fields to host the regional North County Senior Games for sometime in April or May, and is now reaching out to all of the parks and recreation departments across the county, asking for support. “A lot of them, they won’t commit until the first of February to the 15th of February. Well, that really doesn’t give our people a whole lot of time to make travel arrangements,” he added.
The reason for the delay, he said, is because many of the departments don’t know what their schedules or budgets are going to be for the next year. “That being said, Mayor Sanders and the city of San Diego were gracious enough to waive the fees on a lot of the fields.
But when we get up into North County, which is like virgin territory to us, a lot of (departments) aren’t as familiar with who we are, what we are, what we do, as our local city is,” he said. “That being said, we have reached out to the state, to the senate, to the congress and everybody.”
What he’s hoping to achieve is to build up the same amount of presence in the North County that there is in San Diego where September is recognized as Senior Olympic month.
“It may be a city council person to step up to the plate; it may be a mayor to step up to the plate, and say, ‘Hey, make this happen.’ It may be a facilities director at a college, or at parks and recreation,” he said.
Another of their goals is to host the 2013-14 California State Games to San Diego.
A lot of the fields that they’re trying to secure right now are those that can hold team sports, including soccer.
At the North County games in September, certain games as men’s softball and women’s soccer were held at Hourglass Park in Mira Mesa, darts at the Elks Lodge in Poway and Pickleball at the Melba Bishop Rec Center in Oceanside.
The San Diego Senior Olympics is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit. The senior games were founded in 1988 for senior adults 50 and older to participate in sports and maintain physical and mental fitness.
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