Athletes may play on turf

City Council OKs funding for field west of town

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The City Council took the first step Tuesday in making an artificial field west of town a reality by approving $100,000 for the project, but more money needs to come from a Great Outdoors Colorado grant.

At Tuesday's budget review, the council approved the money for construction of a field next to the Christian Heritage School that could be a youth baseball field and soccer field. With artificial turf, snow on the field would melt faster in the spring and open outdoor field space faster.

City Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Director Chris Wilson said the cost of the field is estimated at $250,000. The city has applied for a $100,000 GOCo grant to help fund building the field, and private donations have come in at $50,000.

The city will find out in January whether it is awarded the grant. If the city gets the grant, it can start doing the design work and begin hammering out a lease agreement with the Christian Heritage School.

If the grant is funded, Wilson said, construction will start no sooner than mid-summer.

If GOCo does not provide funding, Wilson said, the city will be asked to contribute another $100,000, or private donors will be asked to raise $150,000. The field also would have to go through the county planning process.

"There are a lot of what-ifs, a lot of i's to be dotted and t's to be crossed before we see any construction out there," Wilson said.

The artificial field is proposed to go between the east side of the school and the west side of the Heritage Park subdivision.

The baseball field dimensions would be 132 feet from home plate to the first base line and 291 feet to where the center field would end.

Inside the baseball diamond would be a rectangular field that could be used for Under-8 and Under-9 soccer teams. That field is estimated to be 65 yards by 32 yards.

The field is too small for adult and high school teams to hold regulation games, but Wilson said an artificial turf field would be very useful for spring training.

An artificial turf field would mean teams could practice outdoors earlier in the spring, when snow is slow to melt and fields are too muddy to play on. Snow also melts faster west of town, Wilson said.

"Sports now have most practices on parking lots (in the spring). It would be a huge step up for us," Wilson said.

Wilson said the field could fit into the needs of Triple Crown's youth sports, but could not be used for adult games because of the size of the field.

For Triple Crown to play on the field, it would have to be part of the lease with the school, Wilson said.

"It may fit into more fields for them, and then again, it may not," Wilson said. "This is not being built for Triple Crown."

In a contract signed in 2002, the city said it would present a plan to Triple Crown for adding two to four more ball fields that Triple Crown could use. If the city did not present a plan, Triple Crown could get out of the contract after the 2004 season.

The plan identified properties owned by the Steamboat Springs School District and land at Heritage Park.

Heritage Park already has two fields used for adult soccer, lacrosse and rugby and has the potential for two more fields to go on either side of the entrance into the school, Wilson said.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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