MILTON, Ga. — Milton’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board deliberated a Milton Steelers’ request to offer free registration for tackle football at its meeting last Wednesday, ultimately recommending approval for five changes — including free registration — to the city’s agreement with the Steelers. The changes will need approval by the City Council before implementation.
The changes to the agreement include allowing the Steelers to offer free registration, a 10 percent cap on its number of scholarship players, the addition of a sixth through eighth grade programs, addressing of the organization’s commission to the city and residency requirements for registration.
If approved, the changes will put the Steelers in compliance with its agreement with the city. The agreement states that any pricing changes or addition of programs must first be approved by city staff. The Steelers went outside that agreement when they began advertising free registration for tackle football and the addition of the sixth through eighth grade teams earlier this year.
Over 10 people in attendance at the meeting spoke in favor of the proposed changes, with one person opposed.
Natalie Lester of the Milton Steelers said the desire to offer free registration was to give all kids the opportunity to play sports, regardless of their parents’ income. She said 16 percent of Alpharetta Elementary students and 31.25 percent of Manning Oaks Elementary students are on free or reduced lunch programs. Lester said those numbers show there is a need for offering free registration, as it is likely those parents cannot afford to pay registration fees associated with youth sports.
The free registration would include Milton residents and, because of the Milton’s memorandum of understanding with Alpharetta, Alpharetta residents.
She said the addition of the sixth through eighth grade programs would provide an alternative to Milton and Cambridge’s feeder football programs.
MPARB chair Scott Stachowski voiced concern as to how the organization would pay its 15 percent commission to the city after offering free registration. Representatives from the Steelers said corporate sponsorships, private sponsorships and donations would provide the commission. Using registration numbers from 2016, the Steelers would be required to pay the city $49.20 per registrant.
As voted on by the board, the Steelers will also implement tiered registration that gives priority to Alpharetta residents as concerns were raised that the organization could see an influx of registration from those living outside Milton and Alpharetta by offering free registration.
The Steelers said they have 70 registrations for the upcoming season. At this time last year, they had just two.