SF soccer teams seek greener pastures 

A 100-year-old soccer league with about 70 teams might not score on The City’s soccer fields anymore because they say it’s getting too expensive for them to kick around.

The San Francisco Soccer Football League is now paying $65 per hour for two-hour games instead of the $25-an-hour fee required two years ago, because more than 10 percent of the players live outside The City. 

The change in fee for teams with nonresident players took place in 2007.

The equivalent of six 18-person teams decided last season not to play anymore because the fee hike or the reorganization of permit fees that ultimately spiked their costs was too expensive, said SFSFL President Leo Shoomiloff.

The league also decided to play their premier game with the top division at Jefferson High School in Daly City because it costs $25 an hour, instead of at the Boxer Stadium in San Francisco’s Balboa Park as they’ve done since the 1950s.

The league is currently looking at other field options in the Bay Area, Shoomiloff said.

“This is our home, San Francisco. Our league started in San Francisco in 1902, and naturally I was the one who opposed even looking into going outside The City,” he said. “But we’re losing players.”

The San Francisco Recreation and Park department changed the structuring of permit costs in 2007 so that youth camps, teams made up of more than 90 percent city residents and nonprofits still pay $25 an hour while everyone else pays $65.

The changes were meant to allow more time for a variety of groups, said Rec and Park spokesman Elton Pon.

“The San Francisco Soccer Football Club is one of the oldest soccer leagues in The City, and we look forward to continuing a relationship with them under the current field permitting guidelines, which are designed to allow all groups equal access to our fields,” Pon wrote in an e-mail.

For the first time since 1902, the league will consider using fields on the Peninsula, in the East Bay or other neighboring areas at its meeting next month.

League soccer player Matt Gunderson of San Francisco, who plays with the team Kezar FC, wrote a letter to the Board of Supervisors after hearing about the possible move.

“I truly hope to see the permit officers give a little more respect and appreciation for what the SFSFL has done for this city before it’s gone for good,” Gunderson wrote.

kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

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Kamala Kelkar

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