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Douglas County parents call for more sports fields ahead of fairgrounds town hall


As Douglas County grows, parents of young athletes say their children need more fields to play on. They worry that potential renovations at the Douglas County Fairgrounds could make the problem worse.

“When it comes to practices and games, we’re looking at a severe lack of fields,” said Brad Wright, Parker’s father and a volunteer youth league coach for his daughter’s softball team and his son’s baseball team.

“He’s tough on me, but he’s fun,” Wright’s son, Austin, said.

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Austin and his 11-year-old colleagues observed the effect of finite fields.

“Sometimes when you have practice, other teams will come in and they’ll have to share the court with you because they have the same time as you,” Austin said.

Wright says his team travels long distances to play and deals with frequent cancellations.

“You’ll have stadiums open or canceled, so you’ll have to find others. Practices will be canceled to make room for games. Games will always be a priority,” Wright said.

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Colorado weather is responsible for many cancellations. When there are too few fields, many of which are natural grass, it exacerbates the problem, Wright says.

The shortage also limits the number of children who can participate.

“We’re currently keeping kids away from something that gets them out of the house, away from their electronic devices. If other areas were available, it would really give kids more options,” Wright said.

Douglas County is considering renovating the fairgrounds to expand the county fair’s space. One possibility being considered is moving the rodeo arena to the area now occupied by the fairgrounds ball fields, effectively eliminating the fields.

Concern about the loss of the three lighted fields prompted local youth sports associations to urge parents to contact county commissioners and advocate against the option.

“Write a letter, craft a letter now,” Wright said.

Commissioner Laura Thomas says if they decide to move the arena, they will build fields elsewhere. She proposes building some at Wildcat Reserve Regional Park in Highlands Ranch.

Thomas says money from a sales tax imposed by voters two years ago, earmarked for parks, could be used to build fields.

“I think we want more space for families to enjoy what a lot of us moved here for, which is the outdoors,” Wright said.

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Wright would like to see new fields put in multi-use, have lights, and are artificial turf.

Youth leagues also face challenges due to a shortage of volunteers and increasing costs, Wright says. Wright says gaming-related fees have risen 25-30% in the past year.

“Less playgrounds, fewer resources, more kids who want to play, higher prices, it all gravitates toward a bad scenario for kids, and really, kids who want to play, they should be able to play,” Wright said.

There will be a live town hall to discuss the future of the fairgrounds on Thursday, May 16 at 6 p.m. Commissioner Thomas says a consultant will present their master plan outlining the various options. Many young sports parents say they plan to attend and make their voices heard.

Here’s how to join the Town Hall:

  • In person at 100 Third Street in Castle Rock
  • Online at douglas.co.us/townhall
  • By phone by calling 833-380-0668, or answer the phone when the district calls just before 6 p.m. To sign up to receive a call, visit douglas.co.us/townhall.



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