Budding Rocky Mountain Sports Park hasn’t approached CHSAA about hosting state baseball, softball — yet
June 2, 2017
Rocky Mountain Sports Park at a glance
The 413-acre, $225 million, 65-field site claims it will be the world’s largest sports park. Here’s what it will consist of:
» A 10,000-person-capacity main stadium
» Five high school and collegiate fields
» 10 youth fields
» Four tee-ball fields
» 16 tournament baseball fields
» 16 tournament softball fields
» 12 multi-use (soccer, lacrosse, football) fields
» One “miracle field” for physically challenged athletes
No one asked about the elephant in the room during Rocky Mountain Sports Park's introductory press conference Tuesday morning, but it was there.
You don't announce a 413-acre, 65-field, baseball-centric facility in Windsor without it crossing peoples' minds as a potential host for Colorado's high school baseball tournaments.
RMSP Director of Marketing Shawn Logan confirmed as much afterward when he said the sports park will go "hard" after the Class 3A, 4A and 5A state baseball and softball tournaments.
"Why not bring them to the best facility in Colorado?" he said.
Indeed, state baseball and softball seem an ideal match for the $225 million RMSP, which is planned to open in two stages in fall 2018 and spring 2019. The park's designs include athlete dormitories, ample food service and retail space and a 10,000-seat main stadium that could host state title games — and it would be big enough for multiple classifications to play simultaneously.
As of now, though, the park hasn't approached the Colorado High School Activities Association about hosting the tournaments. If there's mutual interest, it won't come to fruition until CHSAA has vetted the site. Considering 2019 is the earliest estimate for completion and the amount of planning necessary to pull off a state tournament, the park hosting any tournament before 2020 state softball seems logistically impossible.
"I've heard word zero from them," said CHSAA Assistant Commissioner Bert Borgmann. "I don't think anyone else in our office has, either. But any affordable facility for us, we would certainly want to look at. I heard of (RMSP) and it sounded interesting. Anytime something new comes along, we're anxious to look at it."
RMSP officials were unable to contact the site's potential users before Tuesday's official announcement because they signed non-disclosure agreements, Logan said.
"I would be literally stunned (if the state tournaments moved)," said John W. Haefeli, site manager for Butch Butler Field in Greeley, one of the hosts of the 3A baseball playoffs. "You can never say never, and I know that, but the idea that all of a sudden something comes in new and glitters, I'm not sure why they would go there with something that's served them well."
Class 3A state baseball is split between Niwot High School and Butch Butler; 4A is at All-Star Park in Lakewood and Metro State University in Denver; 5A is at All-City Stadium in Denver. All state softball classifications play tournaments at Aurora Sports Park.
CHSAA has some long-term contracts with tournament hosts — Borgmann said it's already looking to extend its deal with the Budweiser Events Center for 2A state basketball — but all of the baseball sites host on a year-by-year basis.
That removes one barrier to moving state baseball and softball, but not all. Borgmann said CHSAA looks for adequate seating, concessions, amenities, ease of access to the rest of the state and, above all, restrooms when scouting state tournament sites. If the RMSP is built as planned, it'll have all that and more.
Affordability is another crucial component; Borgmann said roughly 80 percent of CHSAA's tournament operating budget comes from state tournament ticket sales.
CHSAA also is loathe to leave a site that has successfully put on a tournament unless there's a compelling reason to do so. Class 2A state basketball, for example, was moved to the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland from Pueblo this past year only because it needed a bigger facility. That's part of why Haefeli is confident his facility will keep the 3A state baseball tournament even after RMSP is built. Butch Butler was opened in 1965, holds roughly 1,000 fans and has hosted state baseball for decades.
"We had a horrific weather situation (for 3A state baseball), and getting the fields ready was nothing short of spectacular," he said. "That's what CHSAA recognizes. We take pride in what we do. I'm sure (RMSP) would do a good job, but I'd be really surprised if (CHSAA) left us, unless it's because of something the city of Greeley can't do."
If RMSP builds it, perhaps CHSAA will come. For now, Borgmann said, he's already talking to tournament hosts about next year.
"Establishing relationships is critical," Borgmann said. "We'd have to get to know those folks."