With the debate about a new multi-million dollar sports complex, its location, funding, and concerns in the community about the value of a continued relationship with Triple Crown, perhaps it might be time to talk seriously about what we really value in our community.
I recognize the importance of athletics and the benefit of sports and how it has grown and enhanced our community. The question is: At what expense? We all wax ebulliently about the quality of life, our extensive existing sports facilities for many special interest sports groups, the ski mountain, etc. However, what is really lacking in our corner of our state is a determined effort to promote culture and the arts as a focus to enhance our community and county.
The current price tag reported by the Pilot & Today is in the neighborhood of $8 million to $14 million, depending on the site. Most of what I have read about this is to benefit Triple Crown and keep officials satisfied. I think the needs of our community have been extremely well-served for a long time in all areas of sports and athletics, and we really don't need another mega-facility that benefits only a few.
I think that Triple Crown is now saying "jump;" we need to stop responding to them with "how high?" What if we were to change that paradigm?
What if this money were earmarked for the development of a cultural performance/conferences and arts facility that is so sorely needed in Steamboat? The Sheraton Steamboat Resort and Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel don't have conference facilities that are worthy of attracting major groups or conferences to town. We do not have a dedicated performing arts facility, no fine arts or exhibition space of any merit whatsoever. The Art Depot Center is no longer sufficient to meet the growing needs of our cultural and arts venues. We see fine arts openings held in hair salons. They are not appropriate venues, in my opinion.
I often have thought that if there is any interest with anything to do with sports and athletics in Steamboat, it receives whatever funding and support necessary. If it has to do with culture and fine arts, there is a considerable amount of lip service, and that is where it ends. The lifeblood of communities needs art and culture as well as athletics, especially in Steamboat.
Our community is growing, and the needs of our residents must move behind such a concentrated impetus for sports-related venues and activities. The quality of life not only depends on what we already have, but also how we look at what we need for the future. It is precisely a fine and performing arts facility, and our need for cultural input that is so lacking here that needs to be addressed. We have excellent facilities for our talents toward elevating a cultural, fine and performing arts conference and meetings facility that will put Steamboat and Routt County as a destination comparable with mountain communities such as Vail, Aspen and Telluride that boast such venues.
The benefit for our merchants, lodging and restaurants far outweighs a new sports complex that benefits just a few.