Steamboat Springs A four-field sports complex near Steamboat Springs Airport and $7.5 million could be the answer to keeping Triple Crown Sports in Northwest Colorado for another decade.
In a progress report to the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday, Director of Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Chris Wilson outlined a scenario that could satisfy the needs of the sports tourism company that hosts baseball and softball tournaments in Steamboat and surrounding communities each summer and also keep the number of visiting teams at or near the current level.
A consultant's report released last year states that Triple Crown's tournaments - which some residents oppose because of noise, traffic congestion and other impacts that accompany the influx of visitors - bring about 32,000 visitors and $1.19 million in tax revenues to Northwest Colorado each summer.
Issues such as the company's controversial proposed use of Emerald Park in 2009 and 2010, fields that don't meet Triple Crown standards and little progress on the construction of a regional sports complex in Hayden have brought Triple Crown's relationship with the city to a new head. Triple Crown President Dave King has said he may not sign a short-term contract extension through 2010 without substantial progress toward meeting the long-term needs of his growing company.
King "isn't really interested in a two-year contract," City Council President Loui Antonucci said Tuesday. "Any less than (10 years), he felt, would not allow him to grow."
Wilson's report outlined a scenario in which Triple Crown would split its World Series event, the largest in Steamboat, between Steamboat and a new host city. Steamboat would continue to see about 375 to 400 teams visit while the event grows in the second city. Then, beginning in 2011, the number of teams visiting Steamboat would drop to 250 and build slowly from there.
In the meantime, the city would face a number of demands. The first, Wilson said, would be the $2.5 million renovation of fields throughout the Yampa Valley, bringing them up to Triple Crown standards. Completing fields at Dry Creek Park in Hayden would cost $875,000 to $1.4 million, depending on whether lights are included. And a four-field complex on city property near Steamboat Springs Airport would cost $2.5 million to $3.5 million. Wilson stressed that the cost estimates are preliminary. He called it a "first shot across the bow."
Wilson said the costs would not only satisfy Triple Crown, but also would meet local needs.
"We do need more turf," Wilson said. "It's not that we are adrift in fields and stuff like that right now."
Councilwoman Cari Hermacinski said she supports the plan, noting the revenue Triple Crown generates for the city.
"It's almost as if someone else is paying for us to update our fields," Hermacinski said.
Fields near Steamboat Springs Airport have never been discussed publicly. Hermacinski said the city is no longer considering a regional sports complex in Hayden because of uncertainties surrounding the developer who was going to donate the land for the facility. Also, Hermacinski said, the extension of water lines to an approved development near the airport has opened new development possibilities on city-owned property there.
Councilman Jon Quinn said he is more hesitant to open the checkbook. He said he wants local businesses to pony up some of the costs, since they also benefit from the money spent by Triple Crown tourists. Despite this and some other concerns, most council members said they are in favor of Triple Crown continuing to operate in Steamboat as long as it doesn't grow too large.
"The size of Triple Crown in our community is at a saturation point," Councilman Walter Magill said, adding later that "Triple Crown is a good partner in our community. I'd like to see them stay here."
Joe Kboudi, owner of All That Jazz music store, and Sandy Evans Hall, executive vice president of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, said businesses would be willing to help.
"We're willing to have skin in the game," Evans Hall said.