BY SERGEI KLEBNIKOV | The city has once again revoked the Lower East Side permits for an adult sports league residents say was using school properties to run an “alcohol-driven” social league.
ZogSports, a co-ed league for young professionals in cities across the U.S., had been hosting several kickball games each week at MO25 145 at Stanton St. and P.S.142, at 100 Attorney St.
Not only do these local properties belong to the Lower East Side Preparatory High School and P.S.142, kids were reportedly even getting displaced off of the playgrounds during the scheduled games.
Marge Feinberg, a Dept. of Education (D.O.E.) spokesperson, said in a statement to The Villager: “The permits for ZogSports were rescinded last month. They are a for-profit business and we provide permits to use our space to non-profit organizations.”
ZogSports had replaced a previous league, NYC Social, which also eventually had their permit revoked. According to local residents, NYC Social encouraged players to go to local bars afterward to drink, and one bar even had a competition for which team “showed the most spirit” at the bar, which would result in free drinks.
“Children need a place to play, especially in this community,” Diem Boyd, founder of L.E.S. Dwellers, an active neighborhood group on the Lower East Side, said before learning of the city’s decision.
Locals endured many years of frustration, and both schools reached out to neighborhood activist groups like Dwellers and the East Village Community Coalition, which helped persuade the city D.O.E. to shut down NYC Social. Eventually the league was removed for not having a non-profit angle — the D.O.E. only provides permits for non-profit organizations.
A research report sent to the D.O.E. and provided by L.E.S. Dwellers states, “Though it is filed as a for-profit entity, its website says charity donations are made through its sister entity “Play For A Cause,” which is registered as a not-for-profit with the New York Department of State. However, drinking is emphasized as a social component of the adult league, and American Honey Wild Turkey is the official liquor of ZogSports and Bud Light is the official beer of ZogSports, both official sponsors of ZogSports. We find liquor-sponsored adult leagues on D.O.E. property objectionable.”
After the games, there was undoubtedly a large focus on drinking. Besides being officially sponsored by two different alcoholic drinks, Libation, at 137 Ludlow St., is the officially sponsored bar of the sports league, and is only a few blocks from the playing fields. And beyond that, Boyd pointed out, is “Hell Square,” a neighborhood nickname for an area with numerous bars.
“They are promoting alcohol on D.O.E. property,” Boyd said of the sports league, pointing out the advertising. She said residents were “concerned about the alcohol-fueled images” being presented to their children as well as the rest of the community. It is inappropriate therefore, she said, for the alcohol-driven leagues to play on D.O.E. property, since their main goal is reportedly the partying after the games.
A resident who asked to remain anonymous provided a recent update on the situation. She reported that the lights and generators have been removed at P.S.142, and that ZogSports have not played kickball at either location since last week. Despite positive signs, residents didn’t want to get their hopes up too high.