The City Council made the right decision in approving the first reading of a new five-year contract with Triple Crown. Let's hope the council can withstand the pressure from Triple Crown opponents and approve the second reading as well.
The contract is the result of weeks of negotiations between the city's negotiating team and Triple Crown founder Dave King. The contract calls for the city to spend $75,000 on facility improvements, for Triple Crown to maintain its current hours of operations and for access to the fields at Emerald Park not to be discussed until a second access is built to the area. Triple Crown has pledged to continue its focus on youth-oriented soccer and baseball tournaments. Much has been said in opposition to Triple Crown in recent months. Residents complain Triple Crown brings unwanted noise, traffic and trash. Some say the $75,000 the city is spending on facility improvements should be spent elsewhere. Some insist the Triple Crown contract should be put to a vote. But we feel the arguments against Triple Crown do not outweigh the benefits the organization delivers.
Yes, Triple Crown increases summertime crowds, but if Triple Crown didn't exist, the void would have to be filled by other tourists. Our heavy reliance on sales tax funding requires that we continue to draw more and more tourists here to help pay for the amenities we enjoy. By and large we think Triple Crown visitors have gotten a bad rap. Most of them are families with children playing baseball, softball or soccer. Most of them really look forward to coming to Steamboat. Suggestions that they are somehow worse than other visitors to our community are unfounded and unfair.
Some suggest we can draw quieter, less noticeable tourists. We doubt such tourists exist. Some suggest we need to diversify our economy. Maybe so, but until that happens, we need to stick with what works. Triple Crown works. Once an agreement is reached and the contract signed, the city can count on thousands of visitors every summer. And there's no marketing required. Triple Crown takes care of that.
The city is right to spend $75,000 improving the baseball fields not just because Triple Crown wants the improvements but because they are city fields and the city has a responsibility to maintain them.
This is not an issue the community should vote upon. Yes, residents gave Triple Crown low marks in the community survey. No surprise there overall, the survey showed Steamboat residents would love not to have to share their community with others. That just isn't economically practical. Without visitors like those from Triple Crown, many Steamboat residents wouldn't be able to be Steamboat residents.
We elect our City Council representatives to make decisions in the best interest of the community. The Triple Crown contract is in the best interest of the community.