Our view: Council at the bat

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Editorial Board, February 2009 through May 2009

  • Suzanne Schlicht, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Mike Lawrence, city editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Paul Hughes, community representative
  • Gail Smith, 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.

Steamboat Springs officials should aggressively pursue a deal with the World Softball League to bring a men's softball tournament to Northwest Colorado for three days this summer. Failing to do so would jeopardize an opportunity to bring in thousands of visitors and the sales tax revenues they would generate.

As the city considers slashing millions more from its 2009 budget, it's hard to fathom why officials would consider turning away the prospect of new business - or any business, for that matter. Of course, we all know the reason - years of local division about Triple Crown tournaments and their impact on our city.

We think there's a way for the city to alleviate or eliminate any negative impacts of adult softball tournaments while also bringing much-needed business to the valley.

The World Softball League has proposed a national adult men's slow-pitch softball tournament that would bring 150 or more teams to Steamboat from Aug. 14 to 16. Fields in Hayden and Craig would need to be secured to help meet the tournament's needs.

City officials have reacted coolly to the World Softball League proposal, primarily because of residents' long history of Triple Crown angst. Some have suggested limiting the tournament to 15 to 25 teams this summer and possibly expanding it in future years if it's a success.

We think that's the wrong approach. Instead, encourage the World Softball League to bring a full complement of teams while also agreeing to a list of demands similar to what the city and Triple Crown negotiated years ago. As such, Steamboat Springs should require that WSL officials have clear rules for their tournament participants and that violating those rules results in disqualification from the tournament. Those rules should emphasize behavior and conduct on and off the field. WSL should place employees in hotels and condo complexes where their teams are staying, and they should closely monitor those athletes and their behavior.

Minimizing the oversight needed from our police and parks and recreation employees during the tournament is good for the city and the World Softball League. So is bringing thousands of visitors to our resort community in the middle of summer. As City Councilman Jon Quinn pointed out during last week's council meeting, this could be the beginning of a positive, long-term relationship between the city and the World Softball League. And if it doesn't work out, so be it.

Bottom line: If Aspen can deal with the X Games year in and year out, Steamboat Springs can handle a three-day adult softball tournament. Tourism is down and so are sales tax revenues, and nobody expects either to significantly rebound anytime soon. And on Friday, we learned the city is considering furloughs for its employees that could amount to 10 percent pay cuts.

We don't think the city and its residents can afford to strike out on this deal.

Comments

cityworker 5 years, 6 months ago

Thank you for this article! I agee completely with this view, and so should everyone else who wants Steamboat to stay afloat in these tough economic times. If this WSL and the other baseball tournament being added on Memorial Day weekend work out, it could help off-set the cost of building the Airport Fourplex. NO BRAINER!!! Also, it provides competition four Triple Crown who is almost to comfortable here. Then these large tournaments could start paying field fees also helping off-set the costs of local recreation opportunities.

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Tim Scannell 5 years, 6 months ago

One good weekend generating sales tax revenues and supporting businesses and property owners who invest capital into Steamboat (and pay property taxes) - is good for a very wide slice of the residents of Steamboat. If managed properly, it is good for everyone.

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ybul 5 years, 6 months ago

Building ball fields in this environment with debt is foolhardy. Who knows what tomorrow holds. Maybe as opposed to building a want with debt, you add the tournament and put aside money to pay for new fields when they can be paid for.

That way if/when tax revenues fall in the future the debt service is not the first and foremost obligation to be paid, requiring a larger percentage of revenue to meet obligations.

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jk 5 years, 6 months ago

telefly, I am here trying to figure out the points of your post. First I am wondering how you came up with your economic impact theory. I am guessing that it is based on your head count. Which leads me to my next question. How does a softball team that fields 10 guys verses the nine on a baseball team have half the head count? I am thinking they will still bring their families. Second where will we be losing business is it going to go out over the telegraph that we are hosting a softball tournament so stay away?? And finally I was wondering if you have ever witnessed the destruction left in the wake of our little family baseball teams. So there is soda and pretzels in the hot tubs and pools instead of beer. The saunas all turn into urinals, and no one can get any piece and quiet because the unsupervised youngsters are all running and screaming down the hallways.Not to mention the property destruction. I think the only area we may agree is there is no need to run right out and build new fields.

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Troutguy 5 years, 6 months ago

One thought that keeps going through my head every time the Triple Crown debate comes up is "is this all we can come up with to attract tourists to our valley?" We live in one of the most beautiful parts of the state, and instead of marketing the great fishing, hiking, camping, mountain biking, etc., we want baseball teams. How about including a summer music venue in the plans for the base area redevelopment, and pull in some big name music? Hotels could team up with local outfitters and offer hotel/guided fishing, hiking, biking, etc. package deals just like the hotel/ lift ticket packages in the winter. I guess all I'm saying is that there are many other options to try to get more tax dollars to flow thru our community than just baseball tournaments.

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housepoor 5 years, 6 months ago

trout...remember the String Cheese concerts....everyone b*&ched and moaned, there is no pleasing these people........most are retired or don't need to work and want want the valley all to themselves......

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jk 5 years, 6 months ago

Most people that are hiking, fishing,and camping don't add a whole lot to the local economy do they? And I think there are enough people abusing our streams and wilderness around here already. I am all for them staying in town and using ballfields however.

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jk 5 years, 6 months ago

Well that's what I get for thinking, your numbers are still way off, what's your excuse.

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 6 months ago

For today I think that ball teams may be one of our few options. Let's do it! Long term I think that we need to conduct our planning so that our options are numerous. As long as Lincoln Ave. remains an undeclared intertate highway, ball teams and trucking assoc. conventions should be our target. We need a complete change of atmosphere downtown to provide a vacation experience and attract a destination crowd. I think the potential is unlimited, input is needed, and maybe more "consultants". Any ideas?

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jk 5 years, 6 months ago

Please Fred no more consultants in this town! I hope that was a joke coming from you?

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Pres Plumb 5 years, 6 months ago

It seems to me that if these folks are a problem, no amount of hand holding or monitoring is going to keep them from doing what they are going to do. However, a few well placed phone calls and the review of back issues of newspapers from the sites of previous tournaments should establish whether they have a history of problems and at least give Council some cold comfort. Don't turn away if they have a history of having a good time and behaving like adults. Trust but verify.

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papafu 5 years, 6 months ago

I might be able to better understand the financial pros and cons if I had some kind of money figures to relate to. So the softball teams come to town. How much will the local taxpayers be paying for the city to provide services for this event? Then how much will the taxpayers be reimbursed in sales tax for the amount of money those who come to town to take part in this event spend? At this point I know this would be an estimate. If and when this this takes place, it would seem appropriate that the local taxpayers are provided with these figures so we could better decide if it was worth it.

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 6 months ago

Snowy, I obviously know little about tourism and promoting associated ventures. The one thing that I do detect is a lack of foresight in many areas. In my business I have to look under every stone, especially in hard times,lack of creativity deserves no sympathy. We need to think big, creatively, and free from fear, this is not impossible. Some individuals have risen from nothing to great heights. This was not an accident, nor should our efforts to create a world class resort be accidental. I would like to see an effort by community leaders to dream of what may be. We have just lost two of the type of people that we need, John Fetcher and Jim Temple. They have provided the example and vision that we need today. We have a good start with all that has been done, we are halfway there. I think the secret lies in our downtown, there is unlimited potential here, a liesurely atmosphere here, could create a magnet to people looking for a getaway. This would give the community a new identity and present a truly vacation atmosphere.

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Richard Levy 5 years, 6 months ago

If they want to come, let them.

If the lodging industry wants to provide 50% discounts, go ahead.

If the Chamber wants to give away "Chamber Bucks" that's great.

But no way should the city give any money to bribe WSL to come to our fair community.

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Tim Scannell 5 years, 6 months ago

I think Snowbow is on to something. Does the city have a Strategic plan, blueprint or vision that it can refer to when making decisions like this? Just curious.

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Scott Wedel 5 years, 6 months ago

Is there any strategic economic plan by any city that is worth anything?

This is SB. They are tourists. What else matters?

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