John F. Russell: Putting a price tag on imagination | SteamboatToday.com

John F. Russell: Putting a price tag on imagination

— Before traveling to Denver last week, I could only image what it would be like to stand inside an indoor sports arena in late December.

But as I stood inside the shelter of the Foothills Sports Complex, I no longer had to imagine what it would be like — but I wished I had worn a pair of long underwear for the experience.

This indoor facility provided a great place for young athletes to stretch their legs in the winter months. On this day, it was full of soccer players, lacrosse players and a single football player eager to learn the sports they love despite that most playing surfaces in the area were under several inches of snow, thanks to a winter storm system that was moving through the area.

That might also explain why the temperatures inside where only slightly warmer than those outside.

But despite the chill, I could finally see how an indoor arena would allow our high school and club teams to be more competitive when the spring season arrives long before the white covering the ground disappears. Most of the opponents our high school and club soccer teams will face in the spring start playing several months ahead of our athletes, and as much as I hate to admit it, that shows on the field.

The high school teams have overcome the disadvantage by traveling out of town in spring or working on the key skills on the hardwood floors of local gymnasiums, but there is no question that these teams would be better served by the artificial surface found inside most indoor sports complexes.

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I also understand why people have been asking for an indoor complex for almost as long as I've been in Steamboat. And I've heard all the arguments for an indoor complex time and time again.

The simple fact is that we have to decide if the success of a high school or club team is worth the cost of building some sort of field house.

I agree that it would be nice to have a facility in Steamboat, and I have no doubts that it would make several of the sports young athletes in our town play more accessible in the winter months. But I also understand that there would be costs — some of which would be hard to imagine.

There is the price tag to build a facility in our mountain town as well as the cost of maintaining the facility and the expense of running it, but there also is the opportunities the facility would bring to our mountain town.

I'm not sure that Steamboat will be able to overcome the hurdles that stand in front of building an indoor complex, but after watching my daughter play at Foothills, I can imagine what it might be like if we had one.

For those young players who pursue their sports on a year-round basis, a new facility would provide a chance to improve their game, expand their horizons and perhaps let them become the best at whatever sport they play.

There is no question that the idea of an indoor sports complex will come around again. I guess that's when we will all have to decide if we are going to decide if the things we can imagine is worth the price.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966