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Monthly Archives: March 2020

Teton Parks and Recreation Department Recreation Center Expansion Climbing Gym: Insights and Takeaways

The Teton Rock Gym, Jackson’s first climbing facility, opened in 1993 with ca. 2,500 square feet of climbing space. It closed in 2007 when The Enclosure Climbing Gym, a 10,000-square foot facility owned and operated by Andy Laakmann, opened its doors. 

The Enclosure closed in 2014. At the time of its close, the gym had 700 members, generated $500-700k/year in revenue and had 50-100 people in the facility at any given time. Given the increase in Teton County population and in climbing’s popularity, demand today is higher than it was ten years ago.

Since The Enclosure closed, no private-market solutions for a climbing gym have emerged. This is a function of two factors: the high cost of Jackson real estate, and a population base too small (23,081 in 2019) to make a climbing gym economically viable.

In the November 2019 election, Teton County voters approved $22,000,000, via the SPET initiative’s Proposition #9, for “Teton County/Jackson Recreation Center Expansion and Renovation, Community Climbing Gym, King Street Extension, and Stormwater Treatment.”

Given the realities of the Jackson Hole market, it should be assumed that the rec center gym, once complete, will preclude the development of a private market gym in the future. For this reason, the development of the rec center gym should be as intentional as possible, for the sake of this and future generations.

The Teton Climbers’ Coalition has come together to celebrate the past, present and future of Teton climbing. We have conducted more than 70 hours of research on climbing facilities around the country, identifying best practices and attributes that will ensure the climbing gym meets our community’s needs.

The development of a public climbing gym as part of the Teton County Parks and Recreation Department Rec Center expansion presents a singular opportunity to create a dynamic facility that meets a significant public need, fosters a sense of community and honors the legacy of Teton climbing, all at the same time.

In order for that to occur, the gym’s development should take into consideration our community’s needs as well as industry best practices and trends, which our research has done.

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