Howelsen Hill users see opportunity to partner to meet future goals |

Howelsen Hill users see opportunity to partner to meet future goals

Isaiah Kelbey and Dylan Hedrick, front, ride the Barrows Lift at Howelsen Hill Ski Area on Jan. 3, 2023. City Council member Michael Buccino hosted a meeting with Howelsen users like the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, Free Summer Concert Series and both the hockey and skating clubs, among a handful of others, on Friday, Jan. 27.
Eli Pace/Steamboat Pilot & Today

A town hall among users of Howelsen Hill last week revealed areas where groups could partner to meet their future goals, as Steamboat Springs is set to study the capacity for development at the park over the next year.

The meeting, hosted by City Council member Michael Buccino, featured users like the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, Free Summer Concert Series and both the hockey and skating clubs, among a handful of others.

“Being able to see what everybody is working towards and then I can start thinking, where does the skating club fit into that,” said Kelli Standekar, on-ice and administrative director for the Steamboat Skating Club. “How do we collaborate with that user group?”

The discussion comes as the city intends to spend a year studying the parking and traffic needs of the park. When this work is done, city officials plan to conduct outreach about the future of Howelsen, but Buccino said he wanted to get that conversation started now.

There were users of the park not at the meeting — potentially because of heavy snow falling while it took place on Friday, Jan. 27. Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series, which has its own master plan for development at Howelsen, was one main user group not part of the discussion.

Buccino said he agrees with the city’s plan for studies and outreach over the next two years, but saw value in starting discussions among user groups now, especially in a format that didn’t limit comment to three-minutes, like city council does at meetings.

“This needs to be casual, I need the feedback,” Buccino said.

For both the skating club and Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association, what they need is another sheet of ice at Howelsen Ice Arena. While the prospects of that seemed to die in 2018, it was revived late last year by city council.

Standekar and hockey association Director Ryan Dingle said they are already limited by available ice time with the one sheet available. Currently, Standekar said when there is ice time available that athletes can get to, they jump at the opportunity.

Adding another sheet would be beneficial for the community because it would open up more time for them to skate, Dingle said. The second sheet would also allow for larger hockey tournaments, which Dingle referred to as a “money maker” for the hockey association.

“We’re kind of stuck,” Dingle said. “We can’t grow, we can’t cater to the individual that wants to come and play maybe one day a week and doesn’t want to travel (to play games).”

The skating club is limited because of ice time as well, Standekar said.

“Our club is hoping to grow, but it’s kind of struggling with lack of access,” she said. “The Mecca, arguable in the entire world of figure skating is about five hours away from us (Colorado Springs), why is it not up here?”

The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club wants to build a training facility at Howelsen, though Executive Director Sarah Floyd emphasized they are flexible about what that eventually looks like. That facility being at Howelsen though is important, because it needs to be near where athletes are skiing.

While the club has partnerships to do this work with Steamboat Mountain School and Old Town Hot Springs, Floyd said they don’t want to overstay their welcome. Standekar said she could see a use for her athletes as well. The ski jumps also need upgrades, Floyd said.

“We’re supportive of the parking and traffic study that’s going on,” Floyd said. “The more we can work together, we can really put some facilities in that would have 12-month use.”

Elliot Lawrence, president of Steamboat Free Summer Concert Series, said the main things they need at Howelsen are upgraded restrooms and better electrical infrastructure. Another issue is access for people with disabilities.

“We love the venue,” Lawrence said. “Infrastructure is probably our big focus for what we do, and then down the road if there’s an option to do something more permanent there as far as a stage or an amphitheater, we’d be fully supportive.”

Toward the end of the discussion, Buccino suggested the groups could try to combine everything into one project, such as a second sheet of ice with a strength and conditioning facility included.

“That’s the kind of creativity that I’m trying to come up with,” Buccino said.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.