Sports complex raises questions


— Steamboat Springs City Council members are raising questions about a proposed sports complex in Northwest Colorado.

Officials from Hayden, Steamboat Springs, the sports community and the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Assoc-iation have been meeting since fall to discuss building a sports complex in the region.

Sandy Evans Hall, executive vice president of the chamber, presented information from the meetings to the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday. She said that two sites have been identified: one south of Hayden and one west of Steamboat. A design firm has completed renderings for the locations.

An estimated cost of the Hayden Village complex concept is $9.3 million; the land and water rights would be donated by landowner Ron Sills. The Brown complex, on property west of Steamboat owned by Mary Brown, would cost about $7.9 million. The Brown land, land preparation and water would cost an estimated $6 million.

The complex idea is in part spurred by the summer sports organization Triple Crown. The organization's contracts with the chamber and the city of Steamboat expire in 2007. Triple Crown President Dave King said in August that the organization would leave Steamboat if no new fields were built in the area.

Paying for property for the complex is one of the issues Evans Hall said officials should study. She also said that officials need to look into:

Financing options for the construction and ongoing operation of the complex.

The cost to maintain and operate the complex.

Identifying potential tournaments that could use the complex, besides Triple Crown.

Possible negative impacts of a complex, including noise, lights, traffic and parking.

Gathering public input during valley-wide presentations.

During Tuesday's meeting, council member Towny Anderson raised several questions and identified several issues related to the complex concept.

Triple Crown is a company, he said. He asked: Are Triple Crown officials willing to make a commitment to use the new complex?

Evans Hall said that the organization would commit to 20 years in the Yampa Valley and also would give $500,000.

"I think that there's a commitment that they're willing to make," Evans Hall said. She said other organizations or tournaments might also be willing to promise to use the complex.

Anderson also said that there are impacts of Triple Crown beyond financial or economic effects. There is a quality of life issue, he said, and people have the perception that Triple Crown participants disrupt the community.

Anderson also said he wondered what the economic effects on Steamboat would be if the complex were in Hayden.

Lastly, Anderson said he perceived a conflict between the chamber's marketing plan and the construction of the fields. Earlier in the meeting, the chamber presented its summer marketing plan, which emphasizes open space, local heritage and other assets. Those assets are already here, Anderson said, but a sports complex is not. He said there is a "level of discomfort" with this aspect of building a complex.

Evans Hall said that she was not sure that there was a conflict between the marketing and building the complex. She said that the community does many sporting events already, and the ball fields would just add to that. Also, she said, the community would benefit from the complex because it would free up existing fields.

Council member Loui Antonucci said Wednesday that he has an open mind about the possibility of a complex and that he thinks it would be a positive economic contributor for all of Northwest Colorado.

Antonucci said that he was impressed with how far officials have come in the process, especially with identifying land.

He said that he sees the complex as a black-and-white numbers issue for now. He said that the first step for officials is to identify the potential revenues versus the costs of a complex before anyone should consider the political issues surrounding the Triple Crown proposal.

Antonucci said he would like to see more refined information about the cost of land, development and operation for a complex -- and how officials want to finance those costs.

Council member Steve Ivan-cie said he was encouraged to see how much work officials have accomplished while examining the possibility of a complex.

Ivancie said he has an open mind about building a complex. He said he wants the facility's users to be balanced. He also wants fields to be open to local groups.

"My community and the kids come first," he said.

Rich Levy of the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley said that he wonders where the money for the complex would come from. He said that the millions of dollars that would be spent on a complex would be better spent on other things, such as affordable housing.

The sports complex issue is not a minor one, Anderson said.

"This is huge," he said.


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