District 3 – Candidate Responses

NO RESPONSES from AK Hassan (incumbent) and Mohamound Hassan

What are your personal experiences with amateur and youth diamond sports in Minneapolis, such as baseball or softball? (ie. As a player, parent, or fan)

Becky Alper – I enjoy watching the occasional baseball game and have attended both Twins and Saints games. After graduating from high school, I spent a summer volunteering on a community development project in rural Dominican Republic and brought with me lots of gently used baseball equipment to distribute to amateur players. It was great to experience how love of the game transcends cultures and countries.

What type of relationship do you think the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) should have with traveling sports organizations like 612 Fastpitch softball and MYBA (baseball) that serve Minneapolis residents?

Becky Alper – I believe that MPRB athletic experiences should serve to help kids build athleticism, skills and friendships. For baseball and softball, MPRB programming can serve as a feeder program into more advanced baseball and softball leagues. Potential relationships between MPRB and MYBA/612 Fastpitch could include MYBA/612 parents/alumni coaching and helping to develop skills (e.g., via skills clinics) for park board baseball and softball team players.

Even though the number of U.S. kids playing baseball and softball combined increased by nearly 3 million between 2013 and 2018, (Source: ESPN/MLB), the SW Parks Master Plan eliminates almost half of the ballfields in Southwest Minneapolis (17 of the 36 ballfields), eliminates two of the three baseball diamonds that SWHS baseball uses for their three teams, and moves SWHS softball from Pershing, where it’s convenient and better fields than Linden Hills. Please describe your position on our request that the Southwest Parks Master Plan be amended to provide better access to diamonds, including reinstating diamonds that are currently slated for elimination.

Becky Alper – Managing the need for space for sports has been and will be an ongoing endeavor for our city. Management decisions need to be data/demand driven, and scheduling for use of /access to spaces should be creative, flexible and equitable (among sports, different demographic populations, etc.). Additional investment should be available to build additional flexibility (e.g., software tools for scheduling that maximize use of fields, field lights for evening play).

If elected, would you be willing to work with “Play Ball Minneapolis” to evaluate improvements in MPRB’s scheduling software and technology? For example, increasing visibility into field usage and ease of use for organizations that schedule games and practices at park facilities? Please explain your answer.

Becky Alper – Yes. I’ve also heard interest from community members in looking at soccer field scheduling and availability.

Are you familiar with the current MOU (memorandum of understanding) and shared use agreements in relation to diamond sports and/or athletics in general between the MPRB and Minneapolis Public Schools? If so, can you comment on any improvements that could be evaluated and/or ongoing discussions that might take place to improve communication?

Becky Alper – MPRB and MPS working well together toward common goals is a must. Do you have a link to this MOU? I found this resolution from 2015 detailing intent to create an MOU https://minneapolisparksmn.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_LegiFile.aspx?ID=1168 but not the MOU itself. Sounds to me like it’s high time to revisit this MOU and build upon it further!

Anecdotally, stories of players who live in Minneapolis but play in programs in surrounding suburbs like St. Louis Park, Edina, Richfield Robbinsdale and St. Anthony are commonplace in youth sports. What should MPRB do, if anything, to address the flight of youth players to other cities?

Becky Alper – We need anecdotal information that can be backed up by quantitative data to make informed decisions. Minneapolis kids participating in sports in surrounding suburbs may be driven by school choices in suburbs, split households, geographic concentrations of culture/language, etc. In general, we need to develop and operate high quality, affordable, and convenient MPRB programs.