Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club looks to build new training facility on city land

The city of Steamboat Springs and the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club is hoping that this plot of land behind Howelsen Hill ice arena will become home to a new training center. (Photo by John F. Russell)

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association are asking Steamboat Springs City Council for permission to build a joint facility for strength, conditioning and acrobatic training for their respective athletes.

The proposed site for this building would be located behind the Howelsen Ice Arena in an area the Parks and Recreation Department currently utilizes for storage, directly adjacent to the Yampa Valley Electric Association substation in the Brooklyn neighborhood.

Winter Sports Club Executive Director Sarah Floyd said the facility would include an indoor trampoline and airbag ramp jump, which would need to be used under supervision of trained professionals.

“Unfortunately, the nature of the facility is such that it’s dangerous if used unsupervised,” Winter Sports Club board member Travis Mayer said. “We need to strike a balance between making it accessible to lots of people but also ensuring it’s supervised to make it safe.”

Floyd did not have a cost estimate when she presented to council Tuesday but said the club would handle all fundraising, maintenance and operational costs. While the club currently has an indoor, 1,350-square-foot training facility, Floyd said it accommodates only about 20 participants, which is not feasible for the 440 athletes that need indoor training.

The idea is in its early stages, but Floyd said the club envisioned the facility as being primarily used by Winter Sports Club athletes, with day camp and reservation spots available 25% of the time for others in the community who are not members of the club.

While all seven council members said they supported the idea, they were concerned about building a facility on public land if the facility were going to be used by the public only 25% of the time.

“I applaud the club for bringing this forth, but I struggle with asking if it’s enough and how we can make sure this doesn’t become a facility that only people from a certain income can afford to use, even if it is for the public,” council member Heather Sloop said. “We need to have this affordable and available to our public if it’s going to be put on public grounds.”

Floyd said one-third of Steamboat youth participate in hockey or Winter Sports Club, which she argued was a compelling point for putting the facility on city land.

“We need to prepare athletes well for their on-ice and on-snow performance,” Floyd said. “Without adequate strength and conditioning facilities, we’re not doing the best we can to ensure their success in preventing injuries and (achieving) success in their sports.”

Council member Michael Buccino said while he understood the concerns of putting a private facility on city land, he believed the facility supported the traditions of Steamboat athletes competing in the Olympics and other high-level events.

Floyd said the group considered asking preexisting gyms to use their facilities but, ultimately, felt the club needed its own space because kids will be using it in the late afternoon after school, which is when gyms are often busiest.

Council did not make any firm decisions Tuesday night and instead directed Parks and Recreation Director Angela Cosby to work with Floyd to collect more information about traffic, parking and more usage by the public.

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