HOUSTON, Texas - Discovery Green Park is removing all Pokémon GO locations in the park after naughty players have cost the privately-funded park thousands.
Discovery Green park management said donations from players using the park could help offset the cost of providing security for those players who violate park rules.
"How can we get it so that the system is supported with the new demand? We haven't quite come up with that idea yet," said Barry Mandel, president of Discovery Green.
This week, park management submitted a request to game developer Niantic to remove all PokéStops and Pokémon Gyms, both of which are locations where players gather to catch and battle their virtual characters. The placement of these locations was determined by the game developers - property owners had no say, resulting in numerous controversies since the app's launch.
It's a move Mandel never wanted to have to make.
"Our mission is very in-line with the Pokémon GO app," explained Mandel. "It's about getting people up, getting people out, getting people moving, getting people connected to each other, and it is unfortunate that there are a few who are abusing the situation and it kind of ruins it for all the rest of us."
The game can trigger rare Pokémon to pop up at late hours of the night, drawing players into the park after hours. Management says it's costing the park thousands in added security to ensure players are not injured and property is not damaged. Crowds of players are also interrupting after-hour maintenance work.
"We just don't have the budget, since we are privately funded and have to raise all our own dollars," said Mandel, who explained the park receives no city tax dollars and no profits from local parking meters.
While local restaurants and vendors have seen an uptick in sales thanks to the added foot traffic, Mandel says it's not enough to offset the increased costs.
When it comes to hiring more security, Mandel says that would cut into funds for the other 600 free events the park hosts during the year. Volunteer security would have to be certified professionals - the park is not willing to compromise quality when it comes to the safety.
Several players in the park Saturday afternoon told FOX 26 they hated seeing the game get shut down, but also understood the need for safety. When asked whether they would donate money to the park to help it maintain proper security - thereby saving the PokéStops - many said they would consider that option.
Three PokéStops have already been removed in Discovery Green. Niantic acknowledged the parks' request to remove all stops, but gave no timeline for when they'd go away.
If you love Pokémon GO, and want to see it continue in privately funded non-profit locations, take a moment between catching them all to visit the organization's website and make a donation.