Hannah Records, 2, watches the action at Brent Romick Rodeo Arena in downtown Steamboat Springs in 2011. The rodeo grounds soon will start to get their biggest makeover in more than 20 years.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Hannah Records, 2, watches the action at Brent Romick Rodeo Arena in downtown Steamboat Springs in 2011. The rodeo grounds soon will start to get their biggest makeover in more than 20 years.

Steamboat Springs' rodeo grounds poised to get biggest makeover in more than 20 years

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— The rodeo grounds in Steamboat Springs soon will get their biggest makeover in more than 20 years.

And when all the dust settles, Brent Romick envisions the facility that bears his name will be a stronger year-round facility with better seats, safer infrastructure and bigger crowds.

“We’re looking forward to reintroducing the facility and bringing back a Western tradition a little bit stronger,” Romick said Wednesday as he talked about the more than $4 million worth of upgrades that are possible for the rodeo grounds in the coming years. “We’ve got a tall ladder to climb to get to the whole project, and we’re going to be relentless in our approach.”

The dramatic transition won’t happen overnight but will be paced by the success of fundraising and grant opportunities.

The work is scheduled to start this summer with the replacement of the bucking chutes and the animal pens.

The early upgrades will make it safer for competitors and the animals and also reduce the amount of contact rodeo staff has with livestock during events, Romick said.

After the safety improvements are done, the work will shift to some bigger projects and cosmetics.

Later phases of work will improve the parking, align the arenas, add a warm-up arena, add more covered seating and make the plaza bigger, among other things.

It also could make possible more events such as cutting horses in the future.

In order for these plans to become reality, Romick and the rodeo board are kicking off a new fundraising campaign that will start in earnest during the Cowboy Roundup Days and the new Ranch Rodeo and First Round Bull Riding events July 3 to 5.

Also moving the project along is $230,000 worth of funding this year from the city and the potential of a $105,000 Great Outdoors Colorado grant the Steamboat Springs City Council recently endorsed.

Romick said he was aware of the fact that the rodeo grounds will compete with other worthy projects across the state for the grant.

He added that the rodeo board’s relationship with the city is as strong as it’s ever been, and he’s looking forward to embarking on the fundraising campaign.

Council member Walter Magill, a rodeo board member who donated his own surveying services at the grounds, called the rodeo grounds a “real satisfier” for Steamboat.

The improvements have drawn support from such groups as the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, the National Barrel Horse Association, the Routt County Gymkhana Club and the Steamboat Nordic Council, which uses the facilities in the winter.

All of the upgrades are outlined in a master plan for the rodeo grounds that was done in 2009.

Romick said the last major capital improvements on the rodeo ground were done in 1990 and were the result of a bond election.

The launch of the capital campaign in Steamboat comes as the city returns to being the only mountain town in Colorado that will host a Pro Rodeo Series in the summer.

Breckenridge hosted one for the past two years, but it is not returning.

The latest summer intercept survey of visitors to Steamboat found the Pro Rodeo Series here was the most popular event, just higher than the Free Summer Concert Series and a more general category of athletic events.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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