Editorial Board, May 2008 to August 2008
- Bryna Larsen, publisher
- Brent Boyer, editor
- Mike Lawrence, city editor
- Tom Ross, reporter
- Eric Morris, community representative
- Paul Draper, community representative
Contact the editorial board at (970) 871-4221 or email@example.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.
Steamboat Springs The proposed contract between Steamboat Springs and Triple Crown Sports once again delays the inevitable decision of how and whether the city should make a long-term commitment to the sports tourism operator. But what's clear is that construction of a new $3.5 million field complex is not the solution.
The contract proposal, approved by the City Council on first reading last week, is a two-year deal for 2009 and 2010. The contract stipulates that Emerald Park fields would not be used for Triple Crown games in 2009, and that the city provide written confirmation by Oct. 1, 2009, "that four additional playing fields will either be constructed or made available for use by Triple Crown in the 2010 season." If such confirmation isn't provided, Triple Crown can terminate the contract for the 2010 season.
There are several noteworthy factors at play.
First, the proposed contract gives Pamela Lane residents at least one more summer without Triple Crown games being played in the city park near their homes. Triple Crown has long sought to move games to Emerald Park, but the city has been resistant to do so based on the lack of secondary access to the park and an undocumented promise made years ago that Triple Crown games wouldn't be played there.
Second, Triple Crown tournament attendance is down this summer, perhaps the result of increasing gas prices and the slumping economy. Whether the waning attendance is the onset of a trend or a one-time blip remains to be seen. Nonetheless, it should serve as a caution flag to city officials as they consider negotiations for a long-term Triple Crown contract and the costs of upgrading or adding additional field capacity.
Finally, the city is projecting a 4 percent decrease in revenues next year, a wake-up call for a community that has enjoyed strong growth for the past few years.
As we've stated time and again, Triple Crown is good for our economy. It brings thousands of families to our town every summer. Those families stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants and shop in our stores. Their dollars contribute to the overall health of our economy.
However, Triple Crown should not be confused for the end-all, be-all of summer tourism in Northwest Colorado. Rather, it should be considered one component of a diverse economy. Given the glum budget outlook, it would be irresponsible of the city to consider a $3.5 million project to construct four athletics fields adjacent to Steamboat Springs Airport unless a significant portion of the total cost came from private funding. Even so, such an expenditure seems unnecessary given the existence of the fields at Emerald Park. It's also unlikely the city could build such a complex in time to meet Triple Crown's summer 2010 request.
Instead, we encourage our city officials to spend the next 14 months examining secondary access options for Emerald Park and the costs associated with improvements to the ball fields at Howelsen Hill. Better use and funding of our existing facilities would negate any perceived need for new facilities, and it would provide Triple Crown the fields it says it needs to continue hosting tournaments here.