A youth-oriented athletic center breaks ground in Casper
Construction on the Wyo Sports Ranch has broken ground on the grounds of the Ford Wyoming Center in Casper. The 130,000+-square-foot athletic complex hopes to be done by early 2025. It will house basketball and volleyball courts, permanent indoor turf, a sports performance and training center, spaces for mat sports like gymnastics, basketball, volleyball, dance and cheer, baseball and softball, as well as community events.
“Its intent [is] to create a home and fix a need that is in Casper for court space and youth sports individuals to have a place to play to better themselves, to continue to grow as young athletes and grow [as well as] provide a community facility that not only kids but community members can use and benefit from in ways that we can only fathom and imagine at this point,” said Jessica Hastings, board member of the Wyo Sports Ranch.
The Casper City Council voted to lease land at the Ford Wyoming Center for the facility in late 2022. It will cost over $40 million to build. The funding is from a public-private partnership. About 70 percent of the funds have been raised so far.
The idea for the facility came after several local parents and coaches became frustrated with the lack of court space and other athletic facilities to host sports and athletic events throughout the year. This also included having to travel to athletic tournaments out of state.
“It's [Casper] absolutely lacking this entirely [for facilities],” she said. “There is court space, but it's only for certain [periods] of time or already [used by] clubs or high schools. This facility is really unique because there's nothing like it in the region of this size.”
Hastings added that the Wyo Sports Ranch will allow Casper and Wyoming to attract national attention by hosting events and tournaments that couldn’t have been in Casper before. Casper city officials expect the facility will bring in millions of dollars annually for the local and state economies and employ more Wyomingites in what is a newer budding sports industry in the Cowboy State.
“Our hope is that our facility can be a home for really any activity in the state that needs a place to perform or play,” Hastings said. “Our agreement is that we can't take away from contracts that are already in place with the [Ford Wyoming] Center for high school tournaments, but we can only add to and benefit and help create a better experience for the patrons and the teams.”
This includes providing practice space for tournaments that are hosted at the Ford Wyoming Center. It will also have room for future expansion of the facilities.
“I think is super exciting for the whole state and it could be a regional draw that they're at a tournament in Casper, maybe they go up to Gillette, maybe they go to Yellowstone National Park, maybe they go to Cody, maybe they go to Jackson,” said Glenda Thomas, Wyo Sports Ranch board member. “I just think for the entire state, the economic development when it comes to tourism will be huge.”