The Union Parks and Recreation Department is making changes to its Wednesday night open gym basketball after seeing low attendance.
Basketball will now be offered from 6-8 pm Wednesdays for adults.
“We’ve had intermittent attendance,” Parks Director Chad Pohlmann said at the September Park Advisory Board meeting. “We’ve had some days that we had five adults there. And then we had some days where we had zero.”
The City Auditorium has played host to basketball from 4-6 pm Wednesdays for youths and 6-9 pm for adults. Each player pays $3. But Pohlmann said those who have been attending are all leaving before 9 pm
The time could always be changed again if there is demand. “If we start to gain a lot of traction and people want to stay later, we’d absolutely reevaluate,” he said.
The parks department pays an employee to stay after hours during open gym basketball, so ending earlier would help reduce personnel costs, Pohlmann said.
Pohlmann hopes basketball attendance will improve as the weather cools.
“I’d love to see this thing go a little bit longer into the winter, and see how that open gym basketball does when it’s cold outside and families don’t have anything else to do,” he said. “And (when) it’s dark at 5.”
Garrett Daehnke, of Union, told The Missourian Monday that he goes to open gym basketball nearly every week. He said five adults is the most he has seen and agreed that no one stays after 8 pm
“Hopefully more people come out,” he said. “I’ll keep going as long as they keep opening up the court.”
Open gym basketball was modeled on Union’s Monday night open play pickleball. When it was introduced in July, Pohlmann said results of a survey the city conducted showed people wanted to have open gym basketball and volleyball, in addition to pickleball.
Another auditorium event that was scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 11 was cancelled. Pohlmann said they called off a program called “Creatures of Myth & Legend” after only five people signed up and paid the $5 fee. Had the class moved forward, it would have caused the department to pay around $350, Pohlmann said.
Those who paid had their money refunded, Pohlmann said.
According to the parks department, the event was to feature naturalists from the World Bird Sanctuary in Valley Park, who were to bring four animals with them. The program would examine all the ways animals inspire myths and legends across the globe.