Let's make a deal

Triple Crown Sports president wants to continue bringing tourneys to town

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— Triple Crown Sports President Dave King announced Wednesday he intends to reach a deal with the city of Steamboat Springs that would continue bringing his national softball, baseball and soccer tournaments here beyond their 20th year in Steamboat.

"We're going to negotiate a new contract," King said. "We're not asking to change anything dramatically," including the $100,000 check the city and chamber write to Triple Crown annually (the city contributes $75,000 and the chamber kicks in $25,000). "We host national tournaments in other cities, but it would be a major blow to us if we didn't return to Steamboat."

Triple Crown is in its third year of a four-year contract and beginning its 19th year in Steamboat, King told an audience of 54 people during a Chamber Business to Business luncheon at the Chart House.

The most challenging part of the negotiations, King predicted, may be what he perceives to be a need to upgrade city baseball and softball facilities. And King made it clear he still covets the ability to host youth tournament games on the fields at Emerald Park. The city has made those diamonds off limits to Triple Crown based on a verbal promise it made to residents of Pamela Lane when it developed the park at the end of their dead-end street.

"I think the facilities are the biggest issue," King said. "There will be no major changes in the financial request from our end. Right now, the ball fields are in very tough shape; it's no reflection on the city of Steamboat Springs."

King said he realizes the cost of maintaining the fields has an impact on the city budget. However, right now, the best fields he has access to are in Craig.

City Director of Parks, Open Space and Recreation Chris Wilson responded by saying he knows King is trying to help his department by drawing attention to the needs of the field, but he believes the fields are in as good of shape as they were last year and the year before.

"My opinion is, Dave says that every year," Wilson said. "Our fields are in the condition they're always in. You can find better ball fields in other places, but our fields work, and people come to Steamboat" for the recreation it offers in a beautiful resort area.

It's also tough on his organization, King said, to send 9- and 10-year-olds who travel here from distant states to play in Hayden, Craig and Oak Creek when the Emerald Park fields aren't in use.

"We have a declining facility situation and we have a nice facility that sits empty in August and we can't play on it," he said.

King acknowledged that Triple Crown tournaments often make it difficult for local residents to go out for breakfast and make their way down Lincoln Avenue on busy summer weekends. But he said he believes Triple Crown's reputation for bringing "loud and obnoxious" adult softball players to town has been mitigated by a shift to youth-oriented tournaments six of nine major events this summer are youth events.

"This is a dilemma for me to even speak to you," King said. "The reason I first came to Steamboat was for lifestyle reasons and we've contributed more to lifestyle changes in Steamboat than we intended."

Incoming Chamber President Bill Stuart told the audience that he ranks Triple Crown's contribution to the local tourism economy right behind skiing.

King said he's confident that the current City Council and future councils will continue to recognize the contribution his tournaments make to the local economy and negotiate a contract that will allow for Triple Crown's continued presence in the Yampa Valley.

King, who is originally form Meeker, said when he originally created his company he was patterning it after the National Junior College Baseball World Series, which has been in Grand Junction since 1957. He believes Triple Crown's partnership with Steamboat has enjoyed noteworthy longevity.

"Nineteen years in the same town," King said. "That's a pretty good run."

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