Homes, many custom-built, began sprouting up in Newport Coast, a
master-planned community developed by the Irvine Co. encompassing
seven square miles, in 1990.
But it wasn't until the last few years those high-dollar homes
began blanketing the surrounding hills.
In less than two years, the number of homes popping up in Newport
Coast has ballooned. Many home buyers are families with children who
want to play sports.
Newport Beach Little League boundaries include Newport Coast,
thus, the league has welcomed greater numbers than arguably at any
time in its history.
"We are maxed out," Molnar said.
The number of players isn't the problem; the concern, Molnar said,
is where they are going to play.
As is the case in surrounding cities such as Costa Mesa, the
demand for field space is at an all-time high and the influx of homes
to Newport Coast with added residents figures to funnel even more
interested players into youth sports leagues.
So where will they blast a fastball down the third-base line, or
bend a 30-foot free kick around the left post?
The City of Newport Beach, for instance, allocates eight fields to
NBLL: two at Bonita Canyon Sports Park, three at Lincoln Elementary
and one each at Buffalo Hills, San Miguel and Andersen School. League
teams also use the private Newport Ridge Park in Newport Coast, but
Molnar said only for practices.
The park is controlled by a homeowners' association and priority
sides with the residents.
With the surge in enrollment, the facilities can't handle the
number of teams that need them.
To answer, the league has slashed games in some age groups and cut
practice time in half in some instances.
In 2002, teams in the Majors division played 20 games a season.
Last year, they played 16, Molnar said.
Teams often have to share fields during practices.
For example, a team who used to receive two hours of practice time
on a particular field might now be asked to share the field and
batting cages for one hour at each station, Molnar said.
Scheduling becomes even trickier when sports seasons overlap and
teams from baseball and soccer leagues are requesting field space,