The baseball fields at Loudy-Simpson Park get major use and will be getting some work done to improve their condition this summer.
The fields are popular spots in the summer months, used for youth and adult softball practices and game. The four fields are also used for the opening rounds of large Triple Crown Baseball tournaments hosted in Steamboat in June, July and August.
But their quality was called into question last year as some Triple Crown teams visiting were disappointed in the state of the fields, which were rough during last summer’s extended drought.
“We had a series of major catastrophes last year,” said Lenny Gillam, Moffat County Facilities manager. “We had a couple major (water) line breaks. When it’s hot as heck and people are using it, that makes it stick out.”
Without any extra money in the county budget, major overhauls to the fields was not a possibility, but Gillam and the rest of the facilities staff, along with those preparing the fields in Hayden, visited Triple Crown headquarters in Fort Collins and picked up pointers on the basic, important field maintenance that can make a difference.
“They said, ‘How about you guys come down for a day and we’ll show you around,’” Gillam said. “Those guys have money for the latest and greatest stuff, but they showed us what they do and there’s plenty of those things we can do in an inexpensive way.”
The old base anchors have been dug up, the infield is being leveled and groomed more with things like nail drags. In addition, the score boxes at each field have been removed, to provide a safer atmosphere for children hanging around during competition this summer.
Jason McCoy, director of the Triple Crown World Series, which happens in Steamboat, is excited to be sending teams out to Craig to play in better conditions this season.
“What we had going on last year was pretty rough. Those fields really weren’t playable but we had to send teams out there to play,” he said. “What we showed them was really just the basics of putting an athletic field together, but it’s going to make a big difference. We are certainly excited to play out there this summer.”
“When you improve your park for Triple Crown, you improve it for your locals, too. That’s what really matters, ” he added.
The focus through April was on improving the infields and Gillam anticipates more work being done on the outfields when the temperature warms more permanently and softens them.
“They really gave us some great ideas on how we can change things up,” Gillam said. “We’re focusing on the infields right now, but as the grass grows the outfield is going to become more of our maintenance along with the rest of (Loudy-Simpson).”
“I’ve already gotten positive feedback from the public, people who’ve used the fields saying, ‘Wow, these are nice.’ Now all we need is a little less cold, and a little more moisture in those fields and it will really start making a difference.”
Contact Nate Waggenspack at 970-875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @CDP_Sports .