Pavilion can serve people and horses |

Pavilion can serve people and horses

Vail Daily Editorial Board
Vail CO, Colorado

The Eagle Board of County Commissioners has a tough one on its hands at Tuesday’s work session. Meeting with members of the Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District and local equestrian and rodeo folks, the issue is what to do about the underused pavilion at the Eagle County Fairgrounds.

At present, the equestrian users dominate the facility and, according to the county, don’t contribute much to the cost of it. An estimate by the recreation district suggests more than 3,000 people could use the pavilion for winter sports leagues and camps. Equestrian bookings, by contrast, are often for small groups of people paying as little as $20 per day. Since the facility cost $4.5 million of taxpayer money, there’s a compelling reason to ensure it’s getting the most use possible while generating a decent amount of revenue.

But can it work for horses and people? The problem lies in the floor: The hard-packed dirt in the pavilion now is good for riding but not so much for sports like soccer or lacrosse. If a turf field is installed, it would make the pavilion pretty much unusable for horses. All things considered, it’s unfair to kick out the rodeo and equestrian crowd for which the facility was built and that’s grown used to having it. Such activities are a welcome part of the county’s Western heritage, and the pavilion is one of the best facilities on the Western Slope for kids pursuing equestrian sports. It’s also critical to the Little Britches rodeo, which are revenue-producing events.

Some kind of compromise is clearly in order. If putting down turf would exclude an entire group of users, more work needs to be done to find a way to make it a multiuse facility ” or simply use other venues already here. In the meantime, if other sports groups want to use the pavilion in winter, they can learn to live with playing on dirt (not an uncommon thing in many parts of the world) until the multi-use solution is arrived upon. The equestrian groups also will need to free up time in the pavilion and plan more revenue-generating events in there while the county and rec district work up a new fee schedule that more accurately reflects the worth of the facility.

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