After nearly three decades, Eagle ballfields complex is due for a face lift | VailDaily.com

After nearly three decades, Eagle ballfields complex is due for a face lift

This graphic from the Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District's Eagle Fairgrounds Sports Complex Survey outlines the area involved and lists various improvements proposed at the site.

EAGLE — Thirty years ago this week, a group of local entities — Eagle County, the town of Eagle, Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District and the now defunct Valley Softball Association — agreed to pool resources to build a ballfield complex at the Eagle County Fairgrounds property.

Now, after nearly three decades of use, WECMRD is considering a comprehensive face lift for the popular facility.

As the recreation district looks at future improvements at the site, locals are encouraged to share their thoughts through an online survey that includes depictions of various improvements under consideration.

"We know we want it to be a place that will be more welcoming," said Janet Bartnik, WECMRD executive director. "This survey is really part of a systematic approach to engage the community and find out what they want in their facility."

Lots of options

The conceptual master plan that will be developed in response to the survey input will address the four existing fields and possibly the green space around the outfields of the two dedicated baseball fields. After the survey data is compiled, WECMRD plans to share two concept plans reflecting the public input before defining the final proposal. The options and the associated costs will then determine a construction schedule.

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The list of options for the facility include:

• Improved concessions

• Beer garden

• Shade shelters

• Color concrete

• Pavers

• Batting cages/bull pen areas

• New playground

• Wi-Fi/phone-charging stations

• Outdoor pingpong

• Obstacle fitness course

As participants work through the survey, they are asked to cite their favorite alternatives and assign a hypothetical budget to rank priorities.

Extra elements

Bartnik noted that the playing surfaces at the fairgrounds complex aren't the issue at the site.

"We have fantastic fields right now, and all of that is spot on," she said.

The challenge at the facility is to provide a better spectator and social experience, Bartnik said.

WECMRD officials believe an improved complex can be an economic driver for Eagle. For instance, a youth baseball tournament that comes to the valley each summer brings several teams to the area. Accompanying the players are parents, other family members and coaches who all need to rent local hotel rooms and eat at local restaurants.

"We are thinking in terms of let's give this facility a nice face lift so when teams like that are here, they have a great place to come to," said Scott Robinson, WECMRD marketing and communications manager.

WECMRD officials said the goal governing the project is to upgrade the facility as a unique destination for its various users. What works for visitors will also be a boon for locals, Robinson and Bartnik noted. Amenities including an expanded concessions area will benefit local softball players who show up for night games, and Little League parents will welcome additional shade structures as they gather for their kids' afternoon contests.

While the survey is still open, Robinson said shade structures and batting cages are among the most popular alternatives.

"It seems like most of the people like the atmosphere of the beer garden area, but they don't really want beer service," he added.

offer your input

The Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District’s Eagle Fairgrounds Sports Complex Public Survey will be open through Friday, Sept. 7. To take the survey, visit wecmrd.org/survey.