Old Spanish Trail Arena’s role expanding, manager says
by Jeff Richards
Contributing Writer
Jul 17, 2014 | 1614 views | 0 0 comments | 62 62 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Construction was recently completed on this new pavilion located adjacent to the Old Spanish Trail Arena ball fields. Photo by Jeff Richards
Construction was recently completed on this new pavilion located adjacent to the Old Spanish Trail Arena ball fields. Photo by Jeff Richards
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Numerous improvements made to the Old Spanish Trail Arena (OSTA) will help the facility take on an even bigger role as a destination point for community events and recreational activities, arena manager Steve Swift said this week.

Although most of the construction on the ball field expansion project has already been completed, Swift says the facilities won’t be ready to host sports until at least the spring of 2015.

The main issue, Swift said, is that despite diligent watering over the past several months, grass seed has struggled to grow on the soccer, baseball, and softball fields.

“We had lots of dust and wind storms that took the topsoil off,” he said, adding that the fields will be replanted with additional grass seed later this fall, and mesh fabric will be laid down on the banks to help prevent further erosion.

Although sizable portions of the fields currently have barren patches of dirt and appear overrun with weeds, “the grass is coming up pretty well in a few areas,” Swift said, adding that nearly 10 acres of ground have been seeded.

Swift said he hopes the grass will be established enough by late fall so that the fields will be ready for use by recreational sports leagues by next spring.

According to Swift, one of the first scheduled events to utilize the newly planted soccer field is expected to be the inaugural “Scots on the Rocks” Moab Celtic Festival, which is scheduled to take place Nov. 7, 8, and 9, 2014 at the arena. In addition to numerous events indoors, the festival plans to stage Scottish games and athletics, including caber tossing (a traditional Scottish event in which competitors throw a large tapered pole) outside on the soccer field. The large poles will be tossed from the grass area onto surrounding dirt so as not to damage the lawn, Swift said.

In addition, next month, on Aug. 8 and 9, the arena will host Moab’s Relay for Life fundraising event for the American Cancer Society. Although that community event won’t generate any income for the facility, Swift says he hopes participants will enjoy being at an indoor venue for the first time in the Moab Relay for Life’s nine-year history.

Swift, who presented the OSTA’s annual report to the Grand County Council at its regular meeting Tuesday, July 15, said that the arena hosted a total of 34 events in 2013, 24 of which paid rental fees.

The facility generated $48,482 in revenue during 2013, up more than $8,000 from the previous year, Swift said. Of that amount, approximately $33,000 was from arena rentals, $14,500 was from horse boarding fees, nearly $900 was from concession sales, and $1,060 was generated from the sale of temporary business licenses, he said.

The arena’s goal is to bring the number of events hosted to as high as 43 per year by 2017, Swift told the council, adding that the key will be to find additional renters and events during the summer and winter months.

Swift, who has been the arena’s manager for more than four and a half years, oversees two other full-time employees at the facility, which has a current annual budget of about $270,000.

According to Swift, the OSTA’s economic benefit to the area is between $4 million and $4.4 million annually, with at least $3.5 million of that being due to the Easter Jeep Safari, which attracts more than 5,000 attendees each spring, including at least 3,500 out-of-area visitors. The other 20-plus paid events held at the arena last year collectively brought another 3,000 out-of-area visitors to the Moab area, Swift estimated in his report.

Swift said after the meeting that a large new pavilion north of the baseball field has been completed and will soon be ready to host various activities, including basketball and volleyball games, roller derby matches, family reunions, and group picnics. A nearby children’s playground will also be constructed as part of a later phase of the facility’s 10-year plan, he said.

Swift said several maintenance and improvement projects also have been completed at the facility over the past year, including additional barn stabilization, installation of motion-sensor safety lights, new signage for horse boarders, a new warm-up area for horses and a newly configured livestock pen system.

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