Mayor Louise Carter-King swings for the fence during the 2018 City/County Softball Game at the Energy Capital Sports Complex
The city is looking to breathe new life back into construction efforts at the Energy Capital Sports Complex (ECSC), commonly referred to as the “Field of Dreams.”
Excitement grew amongst members of the Gillette City Council Friday night as talks focused on ECSC, with Mayor Louise Carter-King stating confidently that “the time is now.”
“Our sales tax is looking better,” Carter-King said. “It’s time to go ahead and continue on those fields.”
So far in fiscal year 2019, city sales tax revenues have increased an average of around 23 -percent over figures reported last year, according to a recent city sales tax update.
During these past six months alone, sales tax figures were reported to be more than 21.2 million, almost 60 -percent of the total $36.2 million in sales tax collected in the whole of FY2018.
The need is there, Carter-King added, basing her statement on comments from the community lamenting about the lack of soccer, softball, and baseball space.
Existing fields at several city parks and schools are reportedly struggling to accommodate the needs of just the youth soccer program, which has an estimated 1,500 kids registered this year, let alone other sports like junior football.
Additionally, Councilman Tim Carsrud added, the adult softball league is “getting pretty big” and will be looking to expand.
Carter-King’s push for construction at the ECSC has another purpose as well, to bring attention and business to the local community by capitalizing on Gillette’s sports tourism potential.
“We have a great city to visit and see,” Carter-King said. “This is a good time for people to come here and see, in the middle of coal country, this beautiful city and county we live in.”
Councilman Shay Lundvall agreed, stating that it was his perception that travelers are already looking at Gillette as a tourism destination.
Lundvall referenced an idea proposed by County Commission Chairman Rusty Bell, who had briefly spoke of filming a video of the Gillette community to inspire people to come here.
“That’s just going to help,” Lundvall said, in reference to construction efforts moving once again at the ECSC.
“Those are first- class fields,” Carter-King, speaking to a conversation she had with several Colorado residents whose kids were using the ECSC. “(They) were saying these are the best fields they’ve ever seen and they follow their kids everywhere.”
Back on track
City Administrator Patrick Davidson advised that the city’s plans for the ECSC are “obsolete.”
Several amenities, like the BMX track and the dog park, were installed in other areas around Gillette when construction efforts at the complex were halted.
A new building for the Boys and Girls Club of Campbell County, which was included in the plans too, is unnecessary with the organization taking up residence in the old Lakeview Elementary building.
The existing plans are not overly helpful and the city needs to re-assess what types of facilities are needed at the ECSC, Davidson added.
Davidson recommended that the city take steps towards attaining a set of plans, which themselves may cost the city between $30,000 and $50,000, within the next three or four months.
Having the plans available would let the city know how much the entire project will cost, and how much they can work into the city’s budget, he said.
“Whether the council acts on it or not, it gets us to that next level, it gets us back on track where we were a few years ago,” Davidson said.
“It builds excitement, too,” Carter-King added. “We’re finally doing something rather than just worrying.”