Our View: New fields aren't needed

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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 editor@steamboatpilot.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

— 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.

Comments

dave mcirvin 6 years, 3 months ago

It sure appears like the Triple Crown threat/city council is holding the public at large hostage. If TC's business is so vital to the SS service/tourist industry then shouldn't those businesses need to foot more of the bill to keep them here?

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kielyj 6 years, 3 months ago

Finally after all these years the Pilot tells the truth about Triple Crown. After all the editorials and op-ed masquerading as news stories it turns out that Triple Crown is not so important after all. In the end its presence is not vital enough to spend significant money in order to keep the tournament in Steamboat. It is important enough, nonetheless, to take the Emerald Park fields and turn them into commercial venues..

The paper told the truth but not the whole truth. Emerald Park was built to provide a sanctuary from Triple Crown. The paper implies that there is no documented agreement that Triple Crown and other commercial activities were banned from the park. There is a document that designates the fields for youth activities. I helped write that document and I admit that it is faulty. At the time the document was written it should have read that only local youth activities are permitted. However, we did not want to preclude locally sponsored tournaments for soccer and baseball; specifically the summer soccer tournament, potential little league tournament games or weekend round robins for the older baseball players which would have out of town kids involved. OK, let's fix it. I propose that a new ordnance be drafted that rectifies any lack of clarity over the use of the park.. Emerald Park needs to be for the use of local kids and tournaments sponsored by local youth sports organizations under rules established by the city.

The paper proposes that the Council investigate secondary access to Emerald. This issue was investigated many times before the fields were built and many times since. Unless the geometry of the area has changed there is no good solution. Another access requires making the current access to Pamela Lane a cul de sac, moving the railroad crossing, putting in a new light with accel/decel lanes as well as acquiring property. A new access can certainly be built but the cost would be prohibitive I believe. The new configuration would have its own logistical problems.. This is a red herring in any event. A secondary access is not a solution to Triple Crown's problems; the paper begs the question of whether Triple Crown should be allowed into the Park in the first place.

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