Gardner Field construction nears completion in time for fall sports
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs High School Athletic Director Luke DeWolfe walked over the new turf at Gardner Field on Wednesday morning.
He’s hopeful the field will be ready for the Sailors to host their first football game of the season Sept. 7 against Moffat County and their first soccer game Sept. 8 against Centaurus.
“We’ll see if those are going to occur,” DeWolfe said. “I think at this point, we’re hopeful, but we also have alternative plans if it’s not ready. I think worst-case scenario that Sept. 14 will be the first home football game.”
Right now, until improvements at Gardner Field are completed, the football team is practicing at the lower field by Gardner as well as the middle school and Maple Street fields. Soccer is practicing on the city fields, while the cross-country team carries on business as usual, running on the trails.
The turf at Gardner Field is 100 percent installed, complete with a shock pad underneath, which meets new concussion protocol. The field also won’t freeze as easily, allowing a longer season of play.
The track is still a work in progress. Only about 30 percent of the asphalt is installed.
“The first week of school, on Aug. 21, we hope things will be complete with the track,” said Mark Leyba, project superintendent with FCI Constructors.
That will be around the time the press box and bleachers arrive at the site on Aug. 20. They will take three weeks to install.
The new bleachers and press box will drastically improve the spectator experience and also meet Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines, which was one of the project’s top goals.
“That was our No. 1 thing … to make it accessible and more efficient with maintenance,” said Pascal Ginesta, the school district’s schools facilities manager.
In addition, two handicapped parking spaces have been added on Maple Street, around the corner from the field’s new entrance, which will no longer be directly behind the concession stand.
“Before, it was just a sea of people on top of each other just behind the concession stand trying to get in,” said DeWolfe, gesturing to the side of the stadium that faces the parking lot where a grand entryway will eventually be built. “Traffic flow was just terrible and trying to get to the women’s restroom was a nightmare.”
The concession stand updates were part of some initial add-ons, which slightly delayed the construction schedule in the beginning. The remodeled facility will include new restrooms, new windows and an upstairs area for storage and auxiliary for speakers or press members.
“This building is in dire need of improvement,” DeWolfe said. “We were constantly having to repair and fix it.”
The Gardner Field renovation also includes larger walls, foundation changes, increased fencing, a new sidewalk by the lower fields and a new equipment shed.
“It has potential to be one of the best prep venues on the Western Slope for sure, and one of the top ones in the state with the natural beauty,” DeWolfe said. “How many places have this kind of view? It’s going to be a special place.”
The Gardner Field project, which is estimated to cost around $3.6 million, is being funded as part of a $12.9 million bond issue that Steamboat Springs School District voters approved in November.
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STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — James “Jim Bob” Moffett was a geologist, a former college football player and oil wildcatter, who built Freeport-McMoRan into one of the world’s leading natural resource companies.