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Jun 30, 2017

Turning a Dream Into Reality: Plans for One-of-a-Kind Sports Park in Colorado Moving Ahead

Mike Billadeau says the idea of constructing what is being billed as the “world’s largest sports park,” did not come overnight.

“I’ve been working on this vision, for lack of a better word, for about five years now,” says Billadeau, who is the executive director of the proposed Rocky Mountain Sports Park.

“But it really took on a life of its own once I started to talk to Ryan Spilborghs about it,” continues Billeadeau.

Spilborghs is known to baseball fans throughout Colorado as an outfielder for the Colorado Rockies and baseball broadcaster for the Root Sports Rocky Mountain network.

Billadeau, an umpire and coach in the town of Windsor, thought that northern Colorado needed more sports field options for area kids.

Spilborghs agreed.

“Even though baseball is a billion dollar industry, it’s dying,” says Billadeau, “especially in the inner cities. We’re losing those inner city kids to the more fast-paced games like basketball and football.”

Together, Billadeau and Spilborghs began to think of ways to reverse that decline, finally deciding that if there were more available places to play baseball as well as softball, young people would respond.

“I know it’s been said before,” notes John Broderius, another Windsor-area coach who is an enthusiastic supporter of the park, “but it really is a matter of ‘if you build it, they will come.’”

Architectural rendering courtesy Mike Billadeau

“Once this thing is up and running, believe me, there will more than enough teams to use it,” continues Broderius.

The park will be built in the growing town of Windsor, at the northwest corner of Harmony Road and Colorado State Highway 257, and will see the construction of 65 individual fields.

Those artificial turf fields will include 16 for tournament baseball, 16 for tournament soccer, 12 for other games like soccer and lacrosse, 10 for youth players, and 5 for high school and college players.

Altogether, the Rocky Mountain Sports Park has an expected price tag of $225 million, a figure that Billadeau says could be subject to change. “We hope that it will come in a little under that,” he remarks. “We’re in the process right now of getting more hard figures from the architect.”

Whatever the final figure ends up being, Billadeau says, “It will all be private funding - no local, state, or any type of tax money is involved at all.”

Although the project will not rely on public funding, it will still ultimately need the approval of public agencies, notes Kelly Arnold, who is the town manager of Windsor.

“There will be annexation issues, development agreements, and many other things that it will have to go through,” says Arnold, who nevertheless notes: “There is tremendous enthusiasm throughout the town for this idea.”

Architectural rendering courtesy Mike Billadeau

As envisioned, the sports park will go up on what is currently mostly vacant farmland, and will also include the construction of a 10,000-seat stadium and creation of a “stadium district” featuring a variety of shops and restaurants.

The park’s blueprint additionally includes a fieldhouse with a workout room, four basketball courts, and an elevated track; as well as a training facility housing meeting rooms, two infields, and computerized hitting and pitching lanes.

Because of its scope and diversity of planned uses, says Billadeau, the Rocky Mountain Sports Park will be naturally geared to host tournaments for boys and girls who will travel to the facility from across the country, as well as globally.

Broderius, too, describes the reach of the park as unlimited.

“Colorado is already a tourist state, and we have an international airport that services the region,” he says. “So people are coming here all the time anyway. But now there will be a select group of people wanting to come here, those who are interested in youth sports, and that could bring in people from around the world.”

Architectural rendering courtesy Mike Billadeau

If fundraising goes as expected, and the project is ultimately approved by the Windsor Town Council, Billadeau says he would like to see the first phase work completed by the fall of 2018.

The second phase construction would then wrap the following spring.

Billadeau admits that the construction schedule for the park may be ambitious, but he notes that the project itself is ambitious, adding: “I am absolutely convinced that this will happen.”

 

By Garry Boulard

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