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A Promising Start, Then Silence. What Happened to Colorado Youth Sports Complex Project?

11 Jul, 2018

By: Michael Popke

What happened to a 490-acre privately funded sports complex project, hyped as the “Disney World of youth sports?” And will it rise again? That’s the question people in Colorado are asking regarding the $225 million Rocky Mountain Sports Complex, a 68-field spread in Windsor located about one hour north of Denver that broke ground in October 2017 and then went silent.

“We still plan on opening Phase I in 2019,” Steven Chasteen, construction manager and owners representative for the Rocky Mountain Sports Park, recently told the Fort Collins Coloradoan in a wide-ranging interview. “That will include 21 ballfields, some infrastructure, food trucks, a couple of concessionaire things. We are not going to be able to have the full-blown tournament season we had hoped to kick off 2019 because of some of the infrastructure delays that have come up with municipalities. The first full season will be 2020. It’s going to be a phased-in approach instead of ‘Boom, here it is.’ … One thing that has taken longer than anticipated is getting sewer lines to the project. The review process also takes time.”

The phased approach, with three phases slated to open between July 1, 2019, and Spring 2022,  also gives Chasteen and his investors time to firm up details regarding a commercial development of 700,000 to 1 million square feet that will complement the fields. A group of 10 investors — including former and current professional athletes, with the majority of them from Colorado — are backing the project, he says.

Phase I will include the aforementioned 21 ballfields, a Miracle Field for challenged and disadvantaged athletes, a hotel, a corporate office, a quick-service restaurant, a convenience store, 8,000 to 10,000 square feet of sit-down restaurants, several self-serve vending areas, food trucks and parking lots. The first scheduled event is a July 4 invitational softball and baseball tournament, with more tournaments running into the fall.

Phase II is expected to open in May 2020 and include 12 additional baseball/softball fields, six soccer/lacrosse/rugby fields, an athletes hall for receptions and meals, an athletes village, retail kiosks, two splashpads, playground equipment, potentially new retail and commercial developments, and more parking lots.

Phase III, slated for completion in Spring 2022, likely will feature a 6,000-seat multi-use stadium and a 70,000-square-foot indoor training facility.

Chasteen’s interview revealed the strategy for creating large-scale facilities — in this case, what RMSP officials claim will be the world’s largest sports park complex— in 2018.

 “Listen, you couldn’t do this big of [a] project and make it work privately unless you phase it in,” he said. “Between the 14-week hyper-local season with these teams paying from $10,000 to $20,000 to bring a team for a week, and you host 98 teams a year plus our other programming, we believe the sports park will be cash-neutral to slightly cash-positive. But the park is a loss leader. It’s the revenue generated by the retail-commercial aspect where the money for investors is. Each phase will be augmented with more retail and commercial coming online in order to not have to continue to go for loans and bankroll this project.”

RMSP officials anticipate 1.2 million annual visitors once everything is operational, and they compare their future facility to Cooperstown Dreams Park in Cooperstown, New York, IMG Sports Academy in Bradenton, Florida, and Grand Park in Westfield, Indiana.

“I know some in the community don’t like to hear it, but this land could have been a trucking center, mini storage units, an industrial park, oil company,” Chasteen said when asked how he would respond to neighbors who aren’t thrilled about the activity that will disrupt former farmland. “Given what it could have been, I think our project fits in nicely here.”

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