STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — For generations Klumker field has been the venue for countless baseball games, the stage for adult softball teams in search of titles and one of the biggest reasons so many people flock to Howelsen hill each summer.
But, more recently, the field, which was built sometime in the 1970s or early ’80s, has become a source of headaches for Ernie Jenkins, parks supervisor for the city of Steamboat Springs.
“Because of the amount of play we get there the conditions on the field have just kind of deteriorated over the years,” Jenkins said. “We had just real poor drainage, we had real poor quality of grass turf growing out there and more rainout than on any other field.”
All of that is expected to change next year, however, thanks to Mid-America Sports Construction from Lee’s Summit, Missouri. The company has been contracted to renovate Klumker Field as part of the 2019 Ballfield Improvement Capital Improvement Project.
“They are completely renovating the field for us with new sod, new infield, new warning track, new irrigation and some infield drains,” Jenkins said. “We are confident that we are going to have a brand new field and it’s going to be great for local leagues and all the tournaments that we have.”
The $218,000 to fund the project is result of a joint effort between the city of Steamboat and Triple Crown Sports. Each year the city contributes $75,000 to the fund, and Triple Crown Sports adds another $15,000 to be used to make improvements to local playing fields, including those at Howelsen, Ski Town Park, Emerald Park and at the Steamboat Springs Middle School in Strawberry Park.
In the past, the money has been used to replace all the field lights, backstops, home-run fencing, irrigation systems, drainage systems and to repair and improve the dugouts. Jenkins said that some money was also used to improve the field at the middle school that is also used to host Triple Crown events.
Jenkins said that for the past couple years the city has held back some of the funds so that Klumker could be improved.
That work began last week and is expected to be completed by the end of October. The new sod for the outfield is expected to be laid early next week, so that the new grass has some time to grow in this fall before temperatures drop. Crews will then move on to the infield, which will be leveled using a laser, and new drainage will be added.
“We could not start on this project until after our local leagues were done, and after all the events were done,” Jenkins explained. “Their goal is to get the sod laid first, and that will give us a couple of weeks, we hope, of warm weather to root the sod. Then, while we are growing in the sod, they will finish the infield and the warning track.”
Jenkins said that Mid-America Sports Construction has a long resume that includes professional sports stadiums and NCAA athletic field stadiums all over the country.
“We were really pleased that they also do little jobs for parks and recreation departments and school districts,’’ Jenkins said.
The last time the city has renovated an athletic field, according to Jenkins, was Whistler Park in 2008.