Town Park by the numbers: plans show how rodeo layout will change

A young cowboy takes part in the mutton busting portion of the Snowmass Rodeo, which kicked off its summer season on June 22, 2022, in Snowmass Village.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

The Snowmass Rodeo grounds will indeed be getting bigger with the proposed revamp of Town Park in Snowmass Village, pending review and approval from the town’s Planning Commission and Town Council. 

But side-by-side plans for the current and revamped layouts show that through the overall grounds — not counting parking — are growing, the way the space is distributed on the grounds is changing. That would yield a smaller arena for competition and more space for spectators. Contestant parking is also shrinking substantially. 

Connect One Design’s Sara Tie showed the side-by-side comparisons to town officials as part of a presentation for the Planning Commission on June 29 and also included the materials in a packet for a presentation to the Town Council on July 5 during an owner’s review of the Town Park redesign project. 

The Planning Commission will enter its third consecutive meeting of special review for the Town Park project Wednesday night, where commissioners will continue to evaluate whether the plans meet specific land use criteria. The Town Council is tentatively scheduled to conduct a regulatory public hearing on that front on July 18, according to a draft agenda item schedule; the town is also the owner of the project and has been reviewing overall design in owner’s review discussions.

The footprint for the rodeo arena, the spectator areas and the pens, chutes and operations areas is 82,181 feet. The proposed footprint for those same areas is 85,118 square feet, according to the plans. 

The space will be redistributed a bit among the arena, spectator and operations zones, though. 

The arena for competition will be narrower and longer, with a smaller footprint overall. It currently covers 30,642 square feet and will shrink to 29,143 square feet with the new design. 

It’s currently about 226 feet, 7 inches long and about 136 feet, 10 inches wide at its longest and widest points, with a somewhat lopsided rectangle shape with rounded corners.

The plans for the future rodeo shows a layout that’s 235 feet, 5 inches long and 130 feet wide at the longest and widest points, with an evened-out shape that looks like a rectangle with the corners cut off. 

The pens, chutes and operations areas will be getting slightly bigger. The current footprint is 24,026 square feet; the proposed footprint is 24,732 square feet.

The spectator areas, which would consolidate all seating to one side of the rodeo, gain the lion’s share of the square footage. The current footprint is 27,513 square feet; that would grow to 31,243 square feet with the Town Park revamp. 

But the footprint for contestant parking is going to get a lot smaller, with the square footage shrinking by about 38%. 

Currently, there are 68,773 square feet of space where contestants can park their trucks and trailers and unload animals and competitors for the rodeo. 

That’s enough to fit 37 trucks and trailers on the dirt lot next to the arena, plus five more at the “Checkpoint Charlie” pullout off of Brush Creek Road, according to the plans. 

The proposed plans show 42,327 square feet of contestant parking, enough to fit 32 trucks and trailers in a reoriented paved parking lot, plus five more at Checkpoint Charlie, according to the plans. 

That’s a 13.5% decrease in the number of trucks that can park in the main lot. Andy Worline, the town’s parks, recreation and trails director, said in an interview the discrepancy between that number and the 38% decrease in square footage is based on parking the trucks and trailers in a more “efficient” way. 

The truck and trailer calculation is based on assumptions that the trucks are 20 feet long, pulling 27-foot-long gooseneck trailers, and that the rigs are at least 15 feet apart side-to-side and 14 feet apart bumper-to-bumper. (A safety report from the Roaring Fork Horse Council, a nonprofit committed to equestrian issues in the valley, recommends that there “must be” 18 feet between trucks and trailers side by side to create adequate space for horses.)

Worline said there’s a “possibility” that there could be more parking at Checkpoint Charlie, but that’s not a guarantee. 

The horse council has also expressed concerns about the impact of the hard paved surface on the animals who compete in the rodeo. There is no designated soft-surface warm-up area in the current rodeo layout, nor is there one included in the future rodeo plans. 

The “flex lawn” area north of the rodeo is smaller, for one thing. Previous plans showed a lawn big enough to fit two soccer fields that could each accommodate U11 youth soccer teams; it would have covered about 57,000 square feet, Worline said. The lawn could be used for other sports, too; the U11 fields are just a point of reference for size. 

With the updated plans, the proposed lawn will eventually be about 47,000 square feet, which could still fit one U11 soccer field or several other recreation spaces, Worline said in the interview. It won’t reach that full size until some playground equipment is removed, though. 

The playground removal — plus some tree removal, revision of a path and full regrading of the field to the edge of the wetlands — isn’t part of the scope of phase one of the project right now. And eventually, a playground would pop up again, just on the other side of the park, Worline and Tie said at the July 5 council meeting. 

The field would still “roughly double” the size of the existing lawn there, according to Tie, and it could still be set up as two smaller sports fields side by side, Worline said.

That adjustment allows the rodeo grounds to shift about 10 feet further north than previously planned, according to Tie and Worline. The distance from the south end to the north end of the grounds won’t be getting bigger, though: “It’s almost like you took the puzzle piece and moved it up,” Worline said in an interview.

The updated plans do show more space for attendee circulation on one side of the arena, with  17 feet, 10 inches between the grandstands (planned to be all on one side of the grounds) and the arena fence. The current rodeo, which has stands on both sides of the arena, varies in circulation space: A map shows that it’s 8 feet, 2 inches between the bleachers and the fence at the narrowest spot and 14 feet at the widest spot, depending on where people are walking. 


Aspen City Council puts brakes on Old Powerhouse Preservation Project

With many lingering questions still surrounding the fate of Aspen’s historic Old Powerhouse, City Council decided during Monday’s work session to hold off on providing staff direction on moving the preservation project forward until more information can be presented.

See more