Shaun Stanley/Durango Herald
What’s in a name?
Alpine Bank has donated $50,000 to Youth Baseball of Southwestern Colorado to help finish the league’s new baseball field complex, getting the effort “back on track” just as funding for the project, which could provide a boon to both local athletics and the local economy, began to run dry.
Construction on the complex restarted last week; when the facility is completed in late summer, it will be christened the Alpine Bank Youth Complex.
President of Alpine Bank, Durango’s Mike Burns said a lack of fields in Durango has created a bottleneck for youth baseball that constricts the town’s ability to serve kids and businesses; the Alpine Bank Youth Complex will help alleviate some of that pressure, he said.
As an economic driver, more fields mean more competition.
The new five-acre complex will make it possible for Durango to host tournaments that draw teams of at least 10 or more players and their families to town – not only to play baseball but also to pump dollars into the hotels, restaurants, the railroad and more.
“So the economic impact is dramatic,” Burns said.
The fields, located on County Road 210 just north of Bodo Industrial Park, also will encourage generations of Durango youth to build the little league memories that Burns said are “some of the best memories, and you remember those for life.”
The complex will serve about 800 youth baseball players from around the region, in addition to accommodating other sports teams in the offseason and community activities such as concerts and festivals, according to a news release to The Durango Herald.
It’s part of “supporting tomorrow’s leaders today,” Burns said.
“For us to be able to help facilitate the completion of the facility – to literally make memories for these kids – is just something we’re tickled to death to be part of,” he said.
And getting the business’ name on a local athletic complex doesn’t hurt either.
“By doing this, clearly it’s a way for us to thank the community for the seven years that we’ve been here,” Burns said. “We’ve had tremendous support from the community, and it’s a way for us to say thanks for all they’ve done.”
The donation is something of a challenge to the YBSWC – and Durango, too.
When Alpine Bank contacted the league about the donation, it was about $100,000 short of complete funding for the first phase of the two-phase project: the fields. Phase 2, the complex lighting, will cost about $200,000 and is slated to be completed later.
So Burns said the bank decided to meet the YBSWC halfway and spur its efforts to secure community support.
“It’s a little bit of a challenge to them. We want to see it get done,” he said.
The bank isn’t the only organization offering up that challenge either.
Colorado’s El Pomar Foundation has awarded the YBSWC with a $25,000 grant, and Josie Burke, communications director for El Pomar, said that grant also lays down a challenge.
Under its mission to enhance the well-being of Coloradans, the El Pomar Foundation takes applications for grants from any nonprofit organization in Colorado, Burke said. The YBSWC went through that competitive application process, she said, and secured the $25,000.
The catch: The league has to raise all the funds necessary to complete the complex in order to receive the grant.
“We’re trying to encourage community support,” Burke said.
The project still needs some additional $50,000 to reach full-funding for Phase 1, so the donations couldn’t have come at a better time, said YBSWC Executive Director Richard Roskowinski.
The two major donations, which he called “unbelievably huge,” made it possible to restart construction on the fields as soon as the weather permitted. Roskowinski said the project was “pretty much out of money” after earlier cash and in-kind donations from local companies and organizations totaling more than $100,000 dwindled.
Last year, all major excavation was completed, and the field location was surveyed, rough graded and prepared for top soil. Although construction this summer will be “no frills,” Roskowinski said, the league’s goal is to finish final grading, install all fencing, spread topsoil, seed, sod and play ball.
Individuals or organizations looking to support the project can contact Roskowinski at 749-2331 or send a donation to PO Box 4046, Durango, Colo., 81302.
In addition to supporting local baseball, the complex also will serve as a memorial for Alpine Bank employees Gena Rych, Tyler Black and Jan Measles Osborne and her husband Steve Osborne, who were killed in a local plane crash in December. Four trees symbolizing their lives will be planted at the fields.
“They’ll get to watch the teams over the years,” Burns said.