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Phoenix Reopens Athletic Fields, Basketball, Volleyball Courts With Rules

Starting Wednesday, Phoenix will begin reopening city athletic fields and sports complexes, more than three months after closing them. 

With COVID-19 case numbers dropping and vaccinations rising, Phoenix leaders say it’s safe to  reopen park amenities with modifications. Groups of 50 or more must submit a COVID safety plan and masks are required at all times for spectators and coaches but not for players while they’re actively playing. Dr. Saskia Popescu is the city’s public health consultant. 

“Because the interactions are so brief and outside, that does become a lower risk environment, I would say maybe have it be a recommendation, I think a mandate is going to be quite difficult and I would really focus on the time that they’re going to be off the field, standing next to each other talking face to face,” she said. “I mean, that would be, from a risk approach, the highest risk, in my opinion."

Masks are required when people are not playing, and spectators must maintain six feet of distance from the field. Acting Parks Director Cynthia Aguilar told the City Council that employees will be watching.

“If they do see a group not in compliance, that group will get a warning verbally and in writing and if they see that same group a second time, then they would then forfeit the remainder of their reservations or in the case of a tournament, the tournament would be canceled or suspended at that time,” she said.

Athletic field reservations and local tournaments will resume March 22. In addition to fields, the city will reopen the Encanto and Rose Mofford sports complexes. People can also access ramadas and picnic tables, basketball and volleyball courts, and fitness equipment.

On March 31, 2020, the City Council voted to close fields, outdoor fitness equipment and basketball and volleyball courts.  On Sept. 2, 2020, the council voted to reopen fields for organized sports practice and games. Then, on Dec. 3, 2020, the council canceled sports tournaments and field reservations. 

On Tuesday, the council also approved restrictions for Easter holiday weekend as it did last year. Easter weekend traditionally attracts crowds to city parks. On April 3 and 4, all parks and amenities will be open but grilling and large gatherings will be prohibited. To discourage groups, Phoenix will close park parking lots except to people with an accessibility placard. 

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.