BY CHRIS ABSHIRE
Fort Collins Coloradoan
JANUARY 23, 2023
The dome is up, sports are happening inside the bubble and you can see the four-acre structure throughout much of Windsor.
Yes, the “future” in Future Legends Sports Complex (1111 Diamond Valley Drive) is now the present.
“We are now officially open as a complex,” said Casey Katofsky, son of founder Jeff Katofsky and the site’s executive director. “We have people playing youth and adult sports on site, right now.”
The Coloradoan recently got a look inside Future Legends’ indoor facility and spoke with Casey Katofsky about what the year holds for this long-anticipated, often-delayed sports complex.
Here’s the outlook for Future Legends in 2023:
The dome is ready for play
One look inside the massive 96-foot-high, 167,000 square-foot dome reveals that it’s as impressive as it sounds.
The multipurpose bubble was officially set in October 2022 after the original cloth material was damaged last May.
Approximately half the indoor space is dedicated to a full-sized synthetic turf soccer/flag football/lacrosse field. The other half is a Sport Court playing surface (the same used at NCAA volleyball championships) that can be configured for dozens of basketball, volleyball or pickleball courts and even concerts.
During our recent visit, the Northern Colorado Hailstorm pro soccer team had just completed an indoor practice on the turf, followed by a University of Northern Colorado softball practice.
Youth volleyball, high school basketball teams, pickleball clubs and more have utilized the facility already this winter.
Anecdotally, volleyball teams have appreciated the slightly more forgiving surface, while basketball teams haven’t noticed a significant difference as the tiles get broken in.
There are still capacity limits (“200 instead of 3,000”) given a lack of parking due to exterior construction and impending fire marshal approvals. Both are expected to be resolved “in the next couple months.”
While there is also still exterior work left, Casey Katofsky said the structure is “99% complete inside,” with only minor aesthetic adjustments remaining.
It’s also been a catalyst for the entire complex. Windsor residents can see more tangible signs of progress after a multiyear construction delay, while the staff sees actual gameplay.
“You’re no longer a construction site,” Katofsky said. “Now you’re an actual sports complex, with some things merely under construction.”
The latest on the Hailstorm, Owlz
The Hailstorm (USL League One) and the Northern Colorado Owlz (Pioneer League baseball) are based out of Future Legends but spent their first seasons in the area as nomads in 2022.
The Owlz played out of Jackson Stadium at UNC’s campus in Greeley. The Hailstorm also played there, at Severance High School and even at CSU’s Canvas Stadium.
They shouldn’t have to travel for home games in 2023.
The Owlz (May 23) and Hailstorm (May 27) are each scheduled to play “on-site” home openers in late May.
The “on-site” distinction accounts for the fact that the TicketSmarter Stadium (6,500 capacity) and Future Legends Field (2,500 capacity) structures may not be fully ready for maximum capacity by then.
“The biggest issue is (the number of) fans, not playing-field readiness,” Katofsky said. “If construction is still happening, that takes up space and presents safety risks with heavy machinery. But the fields themselves will be ready to host games regardless.”
Both stadiums have dual-purpose synthetic-turf fields that can be used interchangeably for baseball and soccer, an admittedly unique combination of sports.
The Hailstorm made a significant dent in their inaugural season, winning two U.S. Open Cup matches and nearly making the USL League One playoffs.
The Owlz (who moved to Windsor from Orem, Utah, in 2021) recently hired local baseball staple Frank Gonzales as their new manager, a move made to foster more community connections.
“We are extremely excited to have Coach Gonzales,” Katofsky said. “Not only is he extremely qualified within the (Colorado) Rockies system, he is someone who cares a ton about this community with deep roots in it.”
What tournaments will be played at Future Legends?
Future Legends (and the Town itself) has long touted it would be an economic boon for Windsor via an estimated 1.2 million visitors per year, many through national and even international youth sports tournaments.
Katofsky said multiyear contracts for major youth tournaments have already been signed, some of them starting as soon as later this year.
He declined to name specific events, citing a desire for partner organizations to announce finalized details themselves.
However, you can expect these tournaments (and more) over the coming 18 months:
- statewide and national youth volleyball tournaments
- major flag football tournaments
- one of the country’s biggest youth soccer cups, on an annual basis
- Colorado youth and high school baseball tournaments
- pickleball and beach volleyball tournaments
Katofsky said there’s a balance between local use and these national tournaments.
Local practices, clubs and teams may dominate the Monday-to-Thursday range weekly, while weekends are expected to heavily feature events with a wider scope.
“Those tournaments and events get a lot of priority, but we will also prioritize getting plenty local representation for our local clubs and high schools in these broader events.”
2023 timelines for Future Legends structures
Future Legends Field, TicketSmarter Stadium
The aforementioned outdoor centerpieces of the complex will be field-ready for the 2023 Owlz and Hailstorm seasons, likely with limited capacity. Full construction is anticipated for completion in the latter half of 2023.
Scheels Sports Center
This part of the complex will feature eight outdoor multipurpose synthetic turf fields and a youth baseball/softball field. Snow and construction backups delayed a fall 2022 opening to this year, and it’s anticipated to be ready for play during summer 2023.
The restaurant and lounge is connected to the indoor dome, with windows overlooking indoor play on one side and outdoor windows offering views out toward the mountains and TicketSmarter Stadium plus the outdoor pickleball and beach volleyball courts.
This is one of the more unique elements of Future Legends and is approaching completion for summer 2023. The 64-“room” dormitory fits up to 12 to 14 players and two coaches per room, according to construction specs.
Katofsky said this will allow the facility to host these major youth events as “dorm-style” tournaments, where many traveling participants can stay on site.
The four-acre indoor structure is basically finished and open for play as of winter 2023. There are still remaining capacity limits due to parking and fire marshal approvals, but they are expected to be resolved soon.
“People have been waiting to see this for so long,” Katofsky said. “Even before we came around, they wanted an indoor facility. It’s a dream to finally make it happen.”
What the Future Legends complex will ultimately include
In case you need a refresher, here are some of the various structures planned for the completed version of Future Legends:
- Indoor multipurpose dome (primary use: 8 basketball courts or 16 volleyball courts)
- 2 indoor baseball diamonds
- 8 outdoor baseball diamonds
- 10 multipurpose turf fields
- 6,500-seat TicketSmarter Stadium (primarily for the Hailstorm, Owlz and concerts)
- 2 on-site hotels (approximately 260 rooms)
- Miracle Field (for special-needs athletes)
- Athlete dormitory
- Retail stores
Source: Fort Collins Coloradoan
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