Triple Crown benefits others

Hayden, Oak Creek, Craig businesses get boost

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— As the city and the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association approach a closing in their Triple Crown negotiations, outlying communities are waiting anxiously.

The main Triple Crown traffic comes through Steamboat, but Craig, Hayden and Oak Creek have picked up the overflow in the past few years and like the boost to their summer economies.

Although not willing to delve into any of the contract details, Chamber Executive Vice President Sandy Evans-Hall said she expects negotiations for a five-year renewal contract to be wrapped up by the end of next week.

But Triple Crown founder Dave King has been warning since the start of summer that if a deal is not signed soon, he has other options in Rocky Mountain resort towns.

Taking no part in the negotiations, both Hayden's and Craig's chambers of commerce said they would like to see the contract signed.

"As far as benefits to our community, it is a clean industry. People come in, spend their money and go back home," said Cathy Vanatta, who is president of Craig's Chamber of Commerce.

In May, Craig's chamber sent a letter to the Steamboat City Council supporting Triple Crown. Signed by Vanatta, the letter stated teams and spectators stay in Craig's hotels, eat in its restaurants and shop in its retail stores a positive economic impact.

On an average weekend, Sean Hardy, Triple Crown's executive director of baseball, said Hayden and Oak Creek would see about 10 teams a day and Craig would see about 40 teams, as would Steamboat. That means Craig could have an influx of 1,400 people per day and Hayden and Oak Creek 350.

Dave Montgomery, owner of Hayden's Food Mill Restaurant, said he saw about 300 to 400 Triple Crown patrons last weekend a pleasant surprise for the new owner.

"I wouldn't say I could retire off of it," he said. "But it is a good thing for us so far. We've been busy."

Not far away, an employee at Hayden's Kum & Go said the convenience store sees traffic throughout Triple Crown weekends as players stop in for gas, candy bars and Gatorade.

In Craig, Mickey O'Brien, manager of Craig's Holiday Inn, said her hotel sees about 12 teams a month, which accounts for 10 percent of summer business. It has grown over the years as teams discover they have more games in Craig than Steamboat and parents opt to relax by the pool instead of spending two hours on the road.

"There was a lot of concern with losing Triple Crown. We house teams all summer. They stay long. The longer they stay, the lower the cost, it's more profitable," she said.

Without the money to retain Triple Crown or as much traffic, those from Craig and Hayden said they do not have the local backlash Steamboat does.

"We don't have to put up with the negativity of tourism in terms of only getting the overflow," O'Brien said.

Vanatta said she can see both sides of the Triple Crown equation, but Craig does not pay or get paid to have Triple Crown come to the city and still benefits from the tourism.

Similar to Steamboat, complaints have been raised over Triple Crown's use of the field, said Nancy Muhme, who is the receptionist for the sectary of Hayden's chamber.

"The only concern I know of is that it cuts into our kids' time on the field.

"But I don't think it's that big of a concern. But it's what I've heard from a couple of parents and coaches," she said.

And although comments are made that local kids could be using the fields that Triple Crown uses, Penny Bricker with Parks and Recreation said Craig has received much-appreciated upgrades to its fields.

Hardy notes that the city has received new dugouts, uniforms for the all-star teams and sod for a new ball field through Triple Crown.

To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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