Did race play role in North Carolina athletic complex design?

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It's a shining jewel of a recreational facility, unless you want to play basketball. Was race an issue in the decision to omit hoops?

It's only a few months old, but the North Main Athletic Complex has quickly become the crown jewel of athletic amenities in Holly Springs except, some say, if you want to play basketball.

Bobby Howard told ABC11 he is not happy at all with the town's courts. The father of four boys who love basketball said the family's excitement over the town's new athletic complex quickly turned to disappointment when town leaders cut the ribbon last fall.

"I feel like it's just the bare minimum attempt at putting up a basketball court," he said.

The town spent $11,000 to add basketball goals to a section of parking lot where balls bounce out in the direction of cars and there are curbs right under the nets.

"It's completely unsafe," said Howard. "This is going to break somebody's ankle."

The North Main Athletic Complex is a $21 million facility. The soccer fields are immaculate and the tennis courts second to none. Now, Howard is wondering out loud if race played a role in the basketball court's design.

"I think that's the sole reason for the lack of quality," he offered. "Because there was African-Americans primarily that play it and it's a large gathering and I don't think the town wants it."

The town's parks and rec director says the suggestion that sports traditionally played more by white residents are being favored over sports traditionally played more by minorities is untrue and disappointing.

"Because my life has been dedicated to providing facilities for all races, all ages, all sexes," explained Len Bradley.

Bradley said the town responded to safety concerns, adding permanent and temporary gates around the courts which, like all the fields, were designed to be multi-use.

"It might not be perfect but it's certainly usable and the people that I've talked to, except for Mr. Howard, have been very happy," said Bradley.

"I would like basketball to get the same treatment that soccer and tennis is getting," said Howard.

Holly Springs told ABC11 the basketball courts were never intended to be competitive courts, just play courts. But, the town said it has ordered padding to go around all the basketball poles to help make things a little safer.

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