Triple Crown Sports President Dave King said Thursday that his summer sports organization will leave Steamboat Springs if new fields are not built in the area.
Triple Crown's contracts with the city of Steamboat Springs and the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association expire in 2007. King, who said his tournaments bring between $10 million and $15 million to the Yampa Valley every summer, wants to see progress on a new athletic complex by January.
"The existing infrastructure is not acceptable -- period," King said.
More than a dozen people interested in the future of Triple Crown in Northwest Colorado gathered Thursday afternoon for a preliminary meeting.
King said Triple Crown "would love" to stay in Steamboat because of its 22-year relationship with the community. He said a Northwest Colorado Sports Complex site and engineer should be in place by January.
"We are playing on fields that don't fit us," King said. "You would not ski on a rocky hillside."
King brought preliminary plans for a complex to Thursday's meeting, identifying the need for 24 to 26 new baseball diamonds, all at a central location.
The diamonds would have grass infields. The Moffat County Middle School field -- where the Bulldogs play -- has the only grass infield of the area fields Triple Crown is allowed to use.
King said such a complex would serve the public of Northwest Colorado as well as Triple Crown. On those weeks when Triple Crown isn't hosting tournaments, the complex could be available for concerts, other tournaments and for public use.
Soccer, rugby, lacrosse and the local Little League were other sports or teams mentioned as possible benefactors from the complex's construction.
The Steamboat Youth Soccer Asso--ciation and the Steamboat Rugby Club had representatives at Thursday's meeting.
Representatives from Craig and Hay--den offered site suggestions and preliminary plans for news fields in their communities. In addition, Ron Sills, a Steamboat resident, came to the meeting to discuss his land south of Hayden.
"We have the land," Sills said. "We are willing to decide how to do it."
Craig City Manager Jim Ferree and Hayden Town Man--ager Russ Martin offered sites and seemed interested but reiterated that everything is still very preliminary, because most property owners in both communities hadn't been contacted yet.
Sandy Evans Hall, executive director of the Chamber Resort Association, appointed a committee to look at sites and a committee to look at complex design.
Discussion about how to fund the project will continue, as well.
"I think it could get support and major funding at the state level," King said.
Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan said the sooner a plan could be put together, the better, because the public is going to need time to respond.
"The politics have to start sometime," Sullivan said.