HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Summer sports come with a big price tag. Great Bend and Hays both invested several million dollars into the athletic complexes they’ve each opened in the past couple of years.
Now officials in Hutchinson have to decide if they want to pour public money into their complex named “Fun Valley”.
For those that remember the glory days of Fun Valley, the image is bittersweet.
“It was awesome, we played out here every weekend. There was not a weekend that everybody was not out here,” said Leanna Frahm, a softball player that grew up in the Hutchinson area.
“We had a lot more teams, a lot more tournaments and just a lot more economic impact in the community,” said John Deardoff, Hutchinson City Manager.
But as years passed things have changed at the complex. The facility now costs the city considerably more to run.
Officials estimate at it’s highest point, the city put in around 100,000 to subsidize expenses. Now they say that the cost is four times that amount.
Now, the city is considering its options to maintain the facility. That may mean not doing tournaments and only doing recreational leagues to cut down on expenses.
“There’s a big difference in the cost of operations if you’re going to be a full-time tournament facility just in terms of overhead costs, operational costs and then you gotta weigh that with the economic impact on the number of teams that we’re bringing in and the number of teams that are spending the night,” said Deardoff.
But those that work inside Fun Valley say that if the city will invest, the results will speak for themselves.
“We’re not asking to build a brand new complex, we just want the tender loving care that this place has needed for a long time and those teams will come back, those teams will come back and stay in the hotels,” said Ryan Bulson, from Fun Valley.
That tender love and care includes mostly work on the bleachers and in the parking lot while officials from the city say it will take time before those improvements can be made.
“Unfortunately, when we talk about those projects each year during our budgeting process, they compete with other capital improvements with the city,” said Deardoff.