Steamboat Springs Steamboat saw some early fireworks Tuesday night as local residents, council members and Triple Crown founder Dave King voiced opinions on a five-year renewal contract.
In a 6-1 vote, the City Council passed the first reading of a contract agreement with Triple Crown. The agreement has the city spending $75,000 for field improvements and Triple Crown not using Emerald Park fields until a second access is built and retaining similar hours of operation as the current contract.
During public comment, the room of more than 50 people erupted in applause after hearing the arguments of both King and locals opposed to the contract.
The contract agreement comes after five months of negotiations, which brought letters and massive public comment to the city.
"This tournament unfortunately polarizes the community," Councilman Steve Ivancie said. "It's local against local, local against tourist, local against business owner."
King said he would gladly go if he felt he was no longer wanted in the community. But he said the need for Triple Crown still exists and Steamboat would be hard pressed to find another partner that understands and is willing to protect the small, rural area.
"I realize the choice between lifestyle and economics is one of the most difficult ones," King said. "It was never anywhere in our plans to disrupt the lifestyle in the community."
King said his organization allows many of the seasonal workers to stay in Steamboat and enjoy the summer lifestyle, something that was not always an option when Triple Crown came to town in 1982.
Council members in favor of the contract said Triple Crown is a vital part of Steamboat's summer economy.
"Triple Crown really gave our economy a jolt. And it really is a trade-off between economy and lifestyle," Councilman Loui Antonucci said.
Council members also said the organization has adjusted to Steamboat's needs and King is not to blame for the increase in tourism during the summer.
"From the get go, (Triple Crown) was always willing to work with us. Dave King is not the person that took away our summers," Councilwoman Nancy Kramer said.
Ivancie cast the lone no vote stating his objections over the use of the Emerald Park fields. Ivancie said through his research and recollection, the park was created for locals because of the demand Triple Crown placed on other facilities.
"Emerald Park should be off the table permanently," he said. "Emerald Park was built specifically for the local youth and local teams."
Under the contract agreement, Emerald Park is off limits to Triple Crown until a second access is built. When that occurs, the city and Triple Crown will revisit the issue every December.
Although she approved the contract, Councilwoman Arianthe Stettner said even if the second access issue of Emerald Park is resolved, she supports the Emerald Park fields being restricted from Triple Crown use.
The Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley, who presented its position to the council on Monday, stated concerns over the use of Emerald Park, not limiting the hours of operations and number tournaments and the city subsidizing Triple Crown.
Although the city is not paying Triple Crown $75,000 to come to Steamboat, like it is in the current contract, Alliance President Stuart Orzach said the money used on field improvements could be used on other projects with higher priorities. He also said the $75,000 tab the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association is likely to pick up could be coming from taxpayers' pockets.
But Stettner said the $75,000 would provide much-needed improvements for the fields.
"The city is doing what we do best, providing infrastructure and facilities. These are things that have been on the capital improvement budget for many years," she said.
And Sandy Evans-Hall, the chamber's executive vice president, said the chamber's share will be coming from commissions off reservations, the lodging community and signs hung on Howelsen fields.
The agreement must go through a second reading before the contract is finalized.