SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald
A renovated warehouse turned indoor practice field now is open for business to local sports teams looking to hone their skills in the off-season or in need of a practice facility away from the elements.
“This has been something Durango has needed for a long time,” said Chris Jaworsky, general manager of The Turf, an indoor sports facility located in Bodo Industrial Park. “This facility gives local youths a place to get better year-round.”
The Stillwater Foundation – a nonprofit organization that promotes youth involvement in sports and the arts – opened The Turf on Sept. 7.
The facility features 8,000 square feet of turf, two batting cages, a pitching machine, a trampoline and weight-training equipment. The foundation took out offices previously housed in the warehouse, knocked down concrete walls to create additional floor space and replaced the lighting. The overall cost of the renovation and equipment was about $100,000.
Terri Gasaway, co-founder of the foundation, hopes the indoor facility will level the playing field for teams traveling to warmer climates to compete in sports such as baseball, softball and soccer.
Snowfall can hinder how frequently a team can practice, and teams in Phoenix or even New Mexico then have an advantage, she said.
The facility is a dramatic improvement compared with its two previous locations. When Stillwater launched its sports program in 2008, the indoor field was housed in a small makeshift warehouse in the Durango Tech Center and later in a warehouse on La Posta Road that lacked heat and bathrooms.
Durango High School softball coach John Bernazzani said the indoor field is filling a need in Durango. In previous years, he said he has had to take the team to an indoor facility in Farmington.
While the last two winters have been mild, long winters can put teams at a disadvantage, Bernazzani said. He is looking into renting the facility during the off-season for players not competing in other sports.
Team memberships for the facility range from year-round for about $5,000 to individual memberships for $500. An injury-prevention workshop will be held in November to work with athletes on speed, agility and flexibility.
The Turf is seeking sponsors to raise additional revenue for more programs.
“We’re working on trying to get corporate sponsors and people to sponsor us so that we can support more injury-prevention programs and skills clinics for local youths,” Jaworsky said. “Also, if we can build up enough donations, we can give more scholarships and possibly be able to lower membership fees.”