Steamboat Springs Mark Lynch is tired of complaining about the lack of a field house in Steamboat Springs.
He's also tired of hearing fellow parents of athletes complain about it alongside him every spring when sports teams compete for space on snow-plowed fields in the city.
To end these complaints, Lynch told the Steamboat Springs School Board on Monday night that he's resolved to help raise millions of dollars to build a new field house on top of the practice field at Steamboat Middle School and give athletes a place to train indoors.
“I know that everybody will love having a field house,” he said. “I also know it's never going to get built with public money. We've decided to try and get it done.”
Lynch, who coordinates the city's youth football program, said he was motivated to start the process because he has two sons in the public school system who play football and lacrosse.
He wants them and other athletes to have a place to practice, especially in the winter before tournaments approach in the spring.
He said he and a group of community members already have raised more than $1 million toward the construction of a new facility.
On Tuesday, he declined to talk about who else is leading the fundraising effort with him.
The group is awaiting pricing options and plans to start fundraising in earnest in the coming months with a target groundbreaking date in the spring.
“This is by no means a certainty,” Lynch said Tuesday. “We're just committed to making it happen.”
Lynch told the School Board a public-private partnership could create a field house that is utilized by the school district during the school day and the greater community year-round.
He said the group would not be looking to make a profit off the operation of the facility.
Initial plans show that the field house would be 140 yards long with a turf field. It would not include a track.
It could host such sports as soccer, lacrosse, football and baseball.
Lynch said there are several options for the construction of the field house, with the cheapest option costing an estimated $4.5 million and being constructed out of steel mesh. A more expensive option would have the facility built with a combination of wood and steel.
“We've gone through the user list, and we're confident we'll pay our way,” Lynch said.
He said the field house would have a target hourly rate of $50 and would be managed by a nonprofit.
The school district and the fundraisers would have to work out a legal agreement that covers things such as liability, utilities and other aspects of the project.
Lynch said the group of fundraisers also has been approached by another entity offering to let them build on a piece of land near the Steamboat Springs Airport, but the group would rather build it next to the schools where it can be accessed readily by student-athletes.
Steamboat Athletic Director Luke DeWolfe said a new field house in the school district stands to benefits students.
“For the high school, for athletics, I think it offers us a lot of benefits especially in the spring,” DeWolfe said, noting teams often have to practice until 10 p.m. “There are teams at the high school that really don't have a home, and they wander around from place to place, with cheerleading being a good example. I think this really addresses that.”
DeWolfe said other benefits include allowing physical education classes to expand their curriculum.
“There are so many things they could do in the wintertime without being stuck in a gym,” he said.
The School Board on Monday night resolved to have Lynch come back in October to weigh approval of the plan and potentially discuss a legal arrangement.
Lynch's proposal comes after the school district unsuccessfully applied for funds from the city's lodging tax to build a similar facility.
“I think it has a lot of merit,” DeWolfe said.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com
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