South Lake Tahoe recreation agreement aims to attract more out-of-towners |

South Lake Tahoe recreation agreement aims to attract more out-of-towners

Jack Barnwell
The Lake Tahoe Community College soccer team practices at the Al Tahoe Community Field on Al Tahoe Boulevard on Thursday, Sept. 17. In an upcoming agreement between the college, the City of South Lake Tahoe and Lake Tahoe Unified School District, the field will undergo extensive rehabilitation and add additional fields next year.
Jack Barnwell / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — Planning sports tournaments and major events, like SnowGlobe Music Festival, at public facilities became easier.

Lake Tahoe Unified School District struck a deal with City of South Lake Tahoe on Tuesday, Sept. 15, to take on responsibility for scheduling non-school district events at recreational facilities.

School district superintendent Dr. James Tarwater called it a win-win for everyone.

“Tournaments are the big thing because that is where the money is,” Tarwater said at a Sept. 8 board meeting. “We should have no trouble attracting 100-team tournaments.”

Carol Chaplin, executive director of Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority, said both the agreement between the city and school district, along with a new three-way partnership with Lake Tahoe Community College, will facilitate improved event coordination.

“Hopefully that allows for better and higher use of the facilitates,” Chaplin said. “Our shared goal is recreational improvement.”

The school district owns the largest amount of recreational facilities in South Lake Tahoe. Aside from its own events, the school district also allows non-district events. It already hosts a few tournaments like Come Up For Air, a two-day soccer tournament; in June, it brought in 170 teams from across the nation.

South Tahoe High School hosted football camps this summer as well, resulting in thousands of dollars in revenue.

Nancy Kerry, South Lake Tahoe’s city manager, said the agreement streamlines the whole planning process.

“The school district becomes a one-stop shop for organizers to schedule events and pay fees,” she said.


According to Tarwater, the school district makes $6,000 to $7,000 per tournament. And in the past, organizers ran in circles if they wanted to host different events like tournaments or crafts fairs on school district properties.

With the agreement in place, everyone will now have a better understanding of where to go, which fields are available and what to pay. Plus, the city will no longer maintain property it doesn’t own and it will transfer all utility costs to the school district.

The district in turn will receive a payment of $100,000 from the city for facility maintenance, at least in the first year, and it will retain revenue generated by events to offset any overhead. The district plans to hire additional personnel to handle the extra responsibility.

Bigger picture

The new arrangement plays into the city’s recreation master plan that it adopted in 2014. It also plays a larger role in an upcoming deal with Lake Tahoe Community College.

The three entities expect to form a joint powers authority later this fall called the SLT Community Play Consortium.

The deal includes joint investment in current and future community fields adjacent to the college on Al Tahoe Boulevard.

Both the city and the college own a piece of the artificial field, but the college has first priority in scheduling, which it uses for its soccer program.

The college will invest $1.57 million from its Measure F bond money to rehabilitate the field, with an additional $300,000 from the city. The city will invest another $1.2 million in creating additional fields adjacent to existing field, including a baseball facility.

The school district would receive $50,000 from the current recreation joint powers authority to offset maintenance costs.

“It’s a great way to implement the master recreation plan and simplify everything,” Kerry said.

Missing infrastructure

While plans may increase the number of recreational opportunities in South Lake Tahoe, there are still gaps.

“Events, like tournaments, bring in a lot of people and families, overnight stays and more spending, but honestly we are lacking the complete product,” Chaplin said.

She said the area lacks infrastructure like expanded locker rooms and spectator facilities.

“We would love to have more major tournaments,” Chaplin said. “If we can make it easier for those types of events to come in, that would be a home run for us.”

Chaplin said that while South Lake Tahoe as a whole has a ways to go before it can act as a regional venue for major tournaments, the new agreement is a start.

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