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Bowley resigns from leadership positions over field flap

President of Costa Mesa United and chairman of Costa Mesa Youth Sports Council says he is dissatisfied with the way the city is allocating time and space for recreational leagues.

April 02, 2014|By Bradley Zint

Citing dissatisfaction with City Hall decisions, a longtime Costa Mesa youth sports advocate confirmed Wednesday that he has resigned from his sports leadership positions.

Gordon Bowley had been serving as president of Costa Mesa United and as chairman of the Costa Mesa Youth Sports Council. His resignations were effective March 18.

Bowley, a Costa Mesa resident since 1968 and former coach for youth baseball and soccer, was Costa Mesa United's president for the last seven years. He has chaired the sports council since its inception six years ago.

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In an interview, Bowley, 76, said his resignations stem from City Hall's "poor management decisions, which resulted in negative effects across the board," and a "loss of confidence" that his groups are true partners with the city's executive leadership.

"I am speaking on my behalf, and not the Costa Mesa United board of directors," Bowley said. "My personal feelings toward my city and its leadership have changed significantly in the last 60 days."

He cited a decision in February affecting the TeWinkle Park Athletic Complex, in which a private flag football program associated with former NFL quarterback Matt Leinart displaced other groups for the coveted Friday night spot.

The Leinart league, a "Group 3" user, was approved to have the complex's baseball-softball fields on Friday nights instead of the city's men's softball league and Costa Mesa American Little League. A third group, Newport-Mesa Girls Softball, at first lost its Friday night spot, but later retained it.

Men's softball, which had TeWinkle on Fridays for 25 years, and Little League were moved to other nights.

City leaders said at the time that their decisions were within management's purview, did not violate policies and that the job of allocating field space in Costa Mesa is a constantly tough one — comparable to placing "10 pounds of flour in a 5-pound bag," according to one city official.

They also cited the Leinart organization being "a well-run, community-oriented program" that also provides sponsorships and funds to local nonprofits and schools.

Dissenters of the Leinart decision, including former city Recreation Manager Bob Knapp — Bowley's son-in-law — contended that it indeed violated Costa Mesa's field-use allocation policy, which has historically prioritized "Group 1" users such as the Little League or its equivalent, like the city leagues, above others.

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