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East Bay little league could close for good due to financial struggles from pandemic

Bay Area

SAN LORENZO, Calif. (KRON) — A financial crisis may lead to the end of an East Bay little league on the brink of shutting down forever.

The pandemic forced the cancellation of this past season, but tens of thousands of dollars in bills still need to be paid.

Parents are now trying to save baseball.

From before dusk — until dawn… Gary Allen spends his days managing the fields for San Lorenzo Little League.

“People have jobs — I’m the old retired guy,” Allen said.

Allen has been associated with the league for nearly 30 years. He serves as it’s president — and coached when his son played.

“It’s the kids,” Allen said. “It’s not just about baseball.”

And, the future of baseball in this town hangs in the balance.

“It’s very serious,” Shelley Vasconcelos said.

Treasurer Shelley Vasconcelos says the pandemic has had crippling effects of the league’s budget. She says leadership has had no choice but to cancel almost all of their fundraisers.

And, the snack bar that generates about 75-percent of their revenue has remained closed.

“We do have expenses ranging between three and four thousand (dollars) a month, every month. If we play or not, to keep it running and open, like the fields, lawn maintenance, just maintenance in general,” Vasconcelos said. “We still have PG&E, water, everything you can think of still comes in, and we still have to pay.”

That includes their lease on the fields. And, they’re two months behind on their rent.

“Other leagues are lucky to not have to pay for their fields, because they’re owned by the cities or whatnot and we’re not,” Israel Lopez said.

Israel Lopez, or coach “Izzy” as the kids call him, has two boys in the league.

Thursday night, he started an online fundraiser the baseball community that has already generated thousands of dollars, but without at least $50,000.

Vasconcelos says next season will likely be cancelled, even if social distancing restrictions are tailed back.

“Everybody knows we’re in dire straits,” Vasconcelos said.

“A lot of these kids, when they build friendships here, they build friendships for life,” Allen said.

A 62-year-old tradition worth fighting for.

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