A Community Gets Active
Allen Fields in Angel Fire, New Mexico
By Rick Dandes
Ten months after the village of Angel Fire, N.M., opened Allen Fields, a $1.6 million multipurpose sports complex, it has already become a hub of recreational activity for community club sports, allowing for youth and adult softball and soccer, while also serving as practice fields for the nearby local high school and visiting college athletes.
An ambitious project first conceived by village officials in 2005, Allen Fields consists of an international-sized soccer field overlapping two smaller soccer fields and two softball fields. Take three laps around the warning track that surrounds the complex and you've run a mile.
"This amazing success story all began with a recreation committee that was appointed by our mayor, who was researching different activities we could build in our community," recalled Tracy Orr, Angel Fire sales and events manager. "We came up with the idea of a sports complex, with soccer fields that could also double as softball fields."
Financing, however, became a major problem, she explained. Angel Fire, because of its demographics and average income level, did not qualify for Community Development Block Grants, so it had to raise money by other means. Help eventually came from the New Mexico legislature in 2008, when it passed a 2.4 percent sports utility fee, assessed on all hotel room nights.
"That money went toward payment for the field," Orr said. "Then we got a loan for $1.575 million and built the field."
The 80 acres of land where Allen Fields is located was donated to the village by Angel Fire Resort, which owns the local ski area and golf course.
After the initial design was presented to village council, Lone Mountain Contracting, Bosque Farms, N.M., bid and won this project but found that their cost projections still took them over budget, explained R.C. Baldonado, a designer and project director with Lone Mountain.
"Committee members from Angel Fire approached us at a Municipal League Conference and asked if we had any ideas that could bring the construction cost down to meet their budget," he said. "With the help of some product manufacturers and Angel Fire, we worked together and came up with a new design that would meet all their needs and still fall within their budget appropriation."
The main challenge Baldonado and his firm encountered was coming up with a design that worked for both the construction budget needs and maintenance budget needs.
"The original architect had designed a facility that consisted of two softball fields and two soccer fields that were all separated. These fields were natural grass fields, and just that would have required maintenance at a cost of about $5,000 a year, which the city did not have.
The design Lone Mountain finally presented to village officials created a multipurpose field that could be used year-round.
"The use of artificial turf also cut down their maintenance budget and the need to reseed the field every couple years," Maldonado added. "It solved a lot of problems. The re-design also allowed Angel Fire to get the most bang for their buck by keeping the facility in continuous use."
The contractor also had to deal with the quirky weather of the Moreno Valley. "Around here," Orr said, "we have snowy winters. Rain begins in July. So we had sort of a short window to get the field built."