Learning that attendance at this year's Triple Crown Sports events is down by 20 percent, Steamboat Springs citizens can breathe a collective sigh of relief. Aren't you glad this happened before we built a multimillion-dollar sports complex to host more tournaments? But for the timing of the recession, this City Council would have taken us there and saddled us with a huge debt to pay.
Building this complex could have been a replay of the notorious Steamboat Springs Airport terminal incident. As you may recall, Continental Airlines decided to cease operations at the airport, leaving taxpayers with a $5 million building to pay for. Public officials were left scrambling to find alternate uses for the building to plug the leak. Current City Council President Loui Antonucci was on the council at the time the terminal building was approved. He joined a slim 3-to-2 council majority that authorized construction of the building in spite of the absence of any long-term, binding agreement with the airline.
The size of the Triple Crown event should be capped at this year's level. The next council should diligently enforce city ordinances to minimize Triple Crown's potential negative impacts - such as noise, lighting and traffic - on residents' quality of life. The city's previous commitment to keep Emerald Park off limits to Triple Crown Sports should be codified.
As far back as I can remember, Triple Crown Sports has made demands and threatened to take their business elsewhere. They appear to be more of an adversary than a business partner. Perhaps the next council can establish a sound, working relationship with Triple Crown that all stakeholders can enthusiastically support. Then, concerned citizens will not have to be constantly vigilant to prevent private, vested interests from giving away more of the public good in closed-door meetings.
There are those who would gladly "grow" our town until it busts. They will have long since departed with their money, leaving taxpayers to pay the tab. We need only watch events unfold on the national level to see what happens when an economy comes to depend on business entities that are "too big to fail."
Is this the end of an era? Let's hope so.
Is Steamboat 700 the next boondoggle that we could and should avert?