Lakewood Ranch Little League sign dispute

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MANATEE COUNTY - Lakewood Ranch Little League is stepping up to bat against Manatee County.  The league is worried that one of their only means of raising money to keep kids on the field may be taken away.

"Within two years we would be bankrupt without these signs," said Mark Caraher one of the Fundraising Coordinators for Lakewood Ranch Little League.

He says the signs at the entrance way of their ball park have been the main sources of revenue, which help to keep kids on the field and the lights on.  "Expense have gone up in the last few years.  We now pay for light, but the cost of that has now gone up in the last few years from 10,00 to 30,000."

And, that's just the beginning of their expenses.  "We have to maintain the cages, we have to drag the field, we have to change fencing out when it needs repair", added Caraher.

And even though the signs help to pay the bills, they violate Manatee County's sign ordinance, which means they may have to come down -- a move that could put the entire little league season in jeopardy.

"We can't cant very well give an exception to one organization when it's a safety issue and if something happens they will be liable but we would defiantly be liable," said Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore.

The county says the bolts holding the signs up are the issue because they could cut or hurt someone. In addition, they say only vinyl signs are permitted by the ordinance but the league say those vinyl signs wont help them with their expenses.

"Businesses do not want to put their brand on that type of advertisements anymore.  They're blowing in the wind after 30 days. If we are not able to put these signs up we would loss roughly $15,000-20,000 in revenue to go towards paying some of these bills," said Caraher.

The league is already in the process of replacing the bolts in question, but in the mean time they still have to negations with the county to keep their signs up.