Parkites want Quinn’s open sooner
April 23, 2010
For Park City High School boys’ soccer coach Caro Caro, a late-winter scramble for local field space is nothing new. But that doesn’t make it easier to bear.
"It’s just ridiculous that the eighth game of the season is when we finally get to use our home venue to practice," Caro said. "The need for space is greater in Park City than people want to accept."
Caro joins a growing number of coaches, parents and players asking the Park City Council to consider making the artificial turf field at Quinn’s Junction Sports Complex available for year-round use. Leading the charge is Carol Tesch, whose son Sully is a 14-year-old involved in youth soccer.
"It just seems like there’s a hell of a lot of gas being used by all of these parents, driving their kids all over, and it’s costing the kids a lot of time in a car or a bus," Tesch said.
Caro’s Miners do not currently play at Quinn’s, which officially opened in Oct. 2005 at a cost of more than $1 million, but at issue is the overall inability of local facilities to accommodate the town’s burgeoning soccer and lacrosse scenes. The field at Quinn’s is in high demand as soon as it opens, which is usually about the third week of March – well after the soccer and lacrosse seasons are under way.
The city recently conducted a cost analysis of two options for Quinn’s. The cheapest and most popular choice was year-round snow removal at a cost of about $135,000 for the first year and $65,000 in subsequent years. Those figures do not include trucking and storing the snow, but do allot $10,000 for annual repairs.
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The analysis also looked at building a domed "bubble" to go over the field for a cost of about $2.15 million, with $347,000 needed annually thereafter. The bubble would be a much larger version – about 70-feet high – of the one currently standing over the tennis courts at the Park City Racquet Club. Snow removal would still be necessary, and the carbon footprint of the bubble would be greater than that of parents and teams driving back and forth to other venues, the study found.
City Manager Tom Bakaly, who will present the two budget options to the council on May 27, said he is not likely to support either option, concluding that snow removal could present a danger to the facility.
"You run the risk of damaging the field, and I don’t believe the warranty covers it," Bakaly said. "It’s been raised a few times over the years, and in the past, they’ve felt having it cleared in the middle of April was sufficient."
The city has already approved the use of crumb rubber to melt the snow naturally in late winter, speeding up the process. Sherriff Dave Edmunds had local prison inmates clear off the field last year, and local parents and players often chip in for removal.
"The bottom line is, it’s just not sustainable that 1,000 families will come to remove snow, or that Sherriff Edmunds can continue to do this every year," Tesch said -although Edmunds said he is "happy to do it" with advanced notice.
Andrew Gutman, president of the Park City Lacrosse Organization, oversees more than 100 players in high school and about 400 in the youth ranks. This year, the high school teams have traveled through Parleys Canyon to practice in the Salt Lake area because snow has covered the grass in Park City so late into the season.
"We go through all sorts of effort to try to overcome that," Gutman said. "In the end, you need to be able to play outdoors every day to build a team."
Park City Soccer Club Registrar Karen Howell agrees that the travel time begins to add up. She has a 16-year-old son who plays in high school and a 14-year-old daughter who plays youth soccer.
"It’s time out of the kids’ lives and time out of our lives," Howell said. "They suffer in their schoolwork because of it. You don’t want their one free hour of the day to be spent driving back and forth to Salt Lake."
Bakaly points out that the city’s residents already have access to an indoor turf facility at the Basin Recreation Field House, but the facility is small for both lacrosse and full-sided soccer – not to mention the difficulty of getting a time slot. Field House coordinator Matt Strader often keeps it open after hours for teams.
"Once the snow hits the ground and people get indoors, we’re booked pretty solid," Strader said. "I know the frustration a lot of these teams go through, because I see them practicing every day, talking about how difficult it is to get time."
And, although it is usually cleared sooner than Quinn’s, there is a narrow window of usage for the outdoor turf at Dozier Field because of light regulations.
Gutman worries that the options looked at by the city’s study were too ambitious, and that a more "middle-of-the-road" option, with occasional clearings during winter, might make more sense.
"I think the city would cooperate if we made a concise, clear case," Gutman said. "There’s a lot of different people clamoring for a lot of different things. If you had the objective of making that field playable every day, that would be expensive. But we could keep the field clear at a moderate expense."
See the sports section for another story about the process and risks of removing snow from an artificial turf field.