Our View: Keep Triple Crown, add diversity

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Editorial Board, April 2010 to Aug. 8, 2010

  • Suzanne Schlicht, publisher
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Blythe Terrell, city editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Towny Anderson, community representative
  • Tatiana Achcar, 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.

Triple Crown Sports is a tricky issue for the city of Steamboat Springs.

Many in the service and tourism industries appreciate the business from the summer baseball and softball tournaments, and those events do boost the local economy. Others are concerned about the negative impacts, perceived or actual, from some Triple Crown participants.

In crafting its next Triple Crown contract, the city should take into consideration the short-term benefits of the athletic events while keeping its eye on the bigger ball — a long view of what sustainable summer tourism in Steamboat could look like.

The city is negotiating a new contract with the Fort Collins-based company. President Dave King said Triple Crown will look at “a relationship that fits the market demand,” which could mean a scaling-back of events in future summers.

City and Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association officials seem to be singing a different tune, however, with Chamber Executive Vice President Sandy Evans Hall saying, “I think for the next five years … we’re hoping that we can grow at a steady rate of 5 to 10 percent per year.”

Triple Crown is a valuable asset to our summer tourism, and we want to see it return. But King has made it clear that Triple Crown teams want the kind of high-quality field complexes that Steamboat doesn’t have and isn’t in a position to pay for. The city shouldn’t invest big bucks into field infrastructure that goes beyond the needs of the residents and would serve mainly visiting teams — and potentially a decreasing number of visiting teams each year, at that.

“We’re still playing baseball on an all-dirt infield when the rest of America is playing on versions that look more like spring training — that’s what we’re competing against,” King said.

Instead of investing taxpayers’ money into major upgrades to ball fields for a company that isn’t sure what its future holds for our city, we should look at more sustainable initiatives. Along that vein are recent discussions about making Steamboat a destination for bicyclists.

Steamboat already is home to a vibrant cycling community. Enthusiasts have brought in events — this summer’s Ride4yellow event through the Lance Armstrong Foundation, for example — and Routt County Riders hopes to grow to 500 members this year. That group meets at 5:30 p.m. today at Library Hall at Bud Werner Memorial Library, and topics include a Bike Town USA Task Force, Bike to Work Week and more.

In addition, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. is hosting an open house about its Summer Trails Master Plan at 5 p.m. Thursday at The Steamboat Grand. Ski Corp. President and CEO Chris Diamond noted the potential benefits of an expanded trail system in a news release, saying, “Potentially, one of the most significant opportunities for increasing summer business is to enhance and expand the on-mountain summer trail system.”

As part of long-term planning, the Chamber has worked to create summer events that appeal to a variety of audiences and draw visitors to town.

What it comes down to is that although Triple Crown has been an important component of Steamboat’s summer economy, it shouldn’t be the only component in which the city invests our public dollars. The city should negotiate in good faith to continue to bring Triple Crown here in the short term, and we should focus our efforts as a community on bigger-picture summer tourism initiatives that diversify our summer tourism.

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