Co-founders Chris Slatt, Steve Beck and Mark Bickham launched Starfire Sports in 2003. They were struck by the idea of combining inclusiveness with access to world-class facilities: a place where everyone in the community could participate, regardless of race, religion, social background or ability level; where kids could learn valuable lessons in teamwork, honesty, integrity and in fulfilling their own potential; and where they would be encouraged to put maximum effort and commitment into their education and their family life.
The opportunity that created a home for Starfire Sports occurred in 2002, when a budget shortfall caused King County to close a number of its parks and recreation facilities. Fort Dent Park, in Tukwila, was one of those sites designated for closure until an unprecedented, cooperative effort between municipalities and private citizens changed its fate. The visionary leadership of then King County Executive Ron Sims, City of Tukwila Mayor Steve Mullet, and the Starfire Sports founders lead to a ground-breaking 40-year public-private partnership concession agreement with the newly founded nonprofit organization Starfire Sports. In March 2003, Starfire assumed 100% operating responsibility for the park athletic facilities, launched its operations and began massive construction and renovations on the site.
The result of these efforts is a campus that is unique in its community. Starfire features five grass sports fields, eight lighted, artificial-turf sports fields (usable year-round), two high-quality indoor soccer fields, two flex-spaces used for kids sports and education. The campus is ideally located to fulfill its mission, surrounded by some of the poorest communities in King County. These neighborhoods are home to high concentrations of children living below the poverty line, ranging from 14 to 22% (compared to the county average of 9.9%).
Starfire Sports is actively building partnerships with other organizations dedicated to enriching the lives of these children. With the help of our partners, we will continue expanding our reach as we seek to involve as many of these kids as possible.