City to Invest Further in Energy Capital Sports Complex

An eagle statue outside of City Hall.
An eagle statue stands tall outside of the main entrance of City Hall.

The Gillette City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to spend $65,000 to pay experts to reevaluate an outdated master plan for the Energy Capital Sports Complex (ECSC).

City Spokesperson Geno Palazzari advised in a follow-up interview Thursday that the money is already accounted for within the city’s current budget and will be paid out to Russel Mills Studios, a Colorado-based architectural design company, upon completion of the project.

The project is expected to begin in December and should take around six to eight months, Palazzari said.

This follows $238,000 the city previously spent on the original master plan in October 2011, which was adopted in 2012.

City Administrator Patrick Davidson explained the need for a more up-to-date master plan for the ECSC during a televised city council meeting Nov. 19.

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“In the beginning, it was as much for our community, for ourselves, as it was a means for economic development,” Davidson said at the meeting.

But since the master plan’s inception in 2012, some things have changed, he explained.

Certain aspects of the plan are no longer necessary, he noted, like a proposed facility at the ECSC for the Campbell County Boys and Girls Club. Now, with the organization moving into a permanent facility within the retired Lakeview Elementary School, that space is no longer needed, Palazzari said Thursday.

Reevaluating the master plan could eventually provide the city with direction on what sort of facilities to put in the space moving forward, but for now it is just a plan, Palazzari said.

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But it is a plan that could pay off in the end, according to Davidson, who spoke to the city’s growing attention to sports tourism, currently a trillion-dollar global industry, given the number of sports teams that used the ECSC this past season.

An estimated 180 sports teams used the fields this year, roughly equaling out to 2,772 players and coaches. On average, each of those players had at least one other person accompanying them and sometimes as many as three, according to a presentation to the council by the Campbell County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Given that these players and their families stayed at local hotels, ate at local restaurants, and visited local stores, these numbers roughly translate to between $980,000 to $1.4 million in revenue for Gillette, per the figures presented to council.

That is not in terms of tax dollars to the city, but in dollars flowing directly into the community, Palazzari explained.

That picture could improve even more moving into future sports seasons, he said, with the city securing a partnership with the Wyoming High School Softball Association in addition to two seasons-worth of state high school soccer tournaments, which means more games and more revenue for the community of Gillette.