Steamboat Springs Triple Crown Sports has successfully weathered grasshopper outbreaks and wildfires, President Dave King said, but the sports tourism company couldn't beat a national recession.
King said Monday that Triple Crown's business this summer in Steamboat Springs - where the company hosts 10 weeks of softball and baseball tournaments each summer - was down about 20 percent. King thinks it's the first time he has seen a year-to-year decline in business in the three decades Steamboat has hosted tournaments.
King recently met with a group of city officials informally at Triple Crown's Fort Collins headquarters.
"Dave was probably as calm as I've ever seen him," City Council President Loui Antonucci reported to his fellow council members at a meeting last week.
Antonucci said the fact that Triple Crown's business slowed ultimately could prove to be a good thing for Steamboat. "The upshot is I think (King) has seen the light on a number of levels."
A community debate has raged for years about whether the tourism dollars Triple Crown's tournaments bring to the city are worth impacts such as traffic and noise, especially during the weeks when Triple Crown hosts its large World Series events. King said the smaller size of this year's event worked better than previous years and lent weight to an idea first presented in 2008 to possibly split the World Series between Steamboat and another city.
"There's always been that idea that the community would like to have us but maybe a little smaller," King said. "A lot of people liked the size we were at this year."
In addition to putting less pressure on Steamboat's lodging and field capacities, Antonucci said Triple Crown received fewer complaints from customers who previously were forced to travel as far away as Craig to play their games.
In 2008, Triple Crown put out a request for proposals for cities that would like to host all or part of its World Series event. King said his company received several responses. King still hopes for a long-term contract with the city and would prefer not to leave Steamboat entirely, but he said that splitting the event would allow him to grow it.
Any changes, however, wouldn't take effect until 2011 at the earliest, King and City Manager Jon Roberts said.
"We were all real comfortable and glad to be partnered together during the economic struggle," King said. "I think there's too much uncertainty in '10 for both parties to do anything different."
There also are no immediate plans for the city to construct a $7.5-million, four-field sports complex previously requested by Triple Crown.
"As it stands right now based upon the economy, we would not be going forward with the construction of new fields," Roberts said. "Next year should look very similar to 2009."
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