Former Rockies player Ryan Spilborghs brings one of many ‘big footprints’ to Windsor youth sports facility
May 30, 2017
When Ryan Spilborghs was 10 years old, the future baseball player traveled to Palmdale, Calif., for one of the first tournaments he played in. His native Santa Barbara didn't have much in the way of baseball infrastructure, and even that tournament was played on small, unkempt fields, nowhere near the vision for what the Rocky Mountain Sports Park is, but Spilborghs had the time of his life.
The RMSP will be, by acreage and number of fields, the biggest sports park in the world, according to its developers. It'll hold 65 fields across 413 acres in Windsor at the northwest corner of Colo. 257 and Weld County Road 74, which becomes Harmony Road as it approaches Fort Collins. Now there are fields and barns and farm equipment at the site; to the east, around the bend, is Windsor Reservoir; across the street is an now-abandoned rock farm.
Spilborghs didn't care in his youth where he played; now, after playing seven years of Major League Baseball, he's signed on to help make the RMSP a reality. He wants every youth baseball player to have the tournament experience he had.
"My love of the game completely changed once I realized there were other people that played it, too, from all different kinds of avenues," Spilborghs said. "Maybe you realize that person standing next to you from a different place is just the same."
The park aims to host weekly youth baseball and softball tournaments throughout the summer season. The obvious template — and competition — is the Cooperstown Dreams Park in New York, which hosts the same types of tournaments at a similar kind of facility and has the imitable advantage of being a 12-minute drive from the Baseball Hall of Fame.
But Shawn Logan, the RMSP's director of marketing, said that the nascent facility has no competition. The fields, with the possible exception of the 10,000-person main field, will be state-of-the-art FieldTurf to keep costs down and to hedge against Colorado's capricious weather. Between the hotels, retail space and restaurants — not to mention the ability to escape to the Rocky Mountains for a day — Spilborghs likened it to baseball Disneyland.
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The RMSP will also take measures to alleviate the prohibitive costs of playing traveling youth sports, so more teams from different places have access to tournaments.
"It shouldn't just be a certain demographic," Logan said. "We're looking into ways to partner with different groups for sponsorships … that will help kids all across the spectrum be able to play."
Who those sponsors will be and what they will contribute is as yet unknown. That's the thing about the RMSP — there's little concrete at this early stage. It's slated to open in two phases between fall 2018 and spring 2019, but because, according to Logan, people involved with the project signed no-disclosure agreements, conversations with potential tournaments, restaurants, retail shops and hotels began only Tuesday.
The $225 million it will take to build the RMSP is private money, but the sources weren't made public at this time. Even Spilborghs' role is somewhat unclear; he's not an investor, but rather attracted "people from the outside within baseball that I have connections with."
"There's a lot more meat to this project than we're capable of showing right now," Spilborghs said. "There's a lot of people behind the scenes who have big footprints in the game."
As far as those conversations with the RMSP's potential tenants, one that will start soon, if it hasn't already, is with the Colorado High School Activities Association. Logan said that the RMSP will go "hard" after the Class 3A, 4A and 5A state baseball and softball tournaments. 3A state baseball is in Niwot and Greeley; 4A is in Lakewood and 5A is in Denver. All classifications of the state softball tournament are in Aurora. For how long, we'll see. CHSAA couldn't be reached for comment; a voicemail said its offices were closed for a staff meeting.
Logan, though, was giddy at the prospect of playing those tournaments in Windsor.
"Why not bring them to the best facility in Colorado?" he asked.