Contract with city would keep Triple Crown around through 2020 | SteamboatToday.com

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Contract with city would keep Triple Crown around through 2020

At a glance

2010 Triple Crown events in Steamboat Springs began last week when the Mountain Magic fast-pitch softball camp and youth tournaments brought about 80 teams to the city from June 7 to 13. Upcoming Triple Crown events and team estimates include:

■ Friday to Sunday, and June 25 to 27: Mountain Magic baseball, total of 100 teams

■ July 3 to 5: Mountain Magic Fourth of July softball tournament, 65 teams

■ July 20 to 25, July 27 to Aug. 1, Aug. 3 to 8: Triple Crown World Series, total of 140 teams

— A proposed agreement with the city would keep Triple Crown Sports events in Steamboat Springs through 2020.

The Steamboat Springs City Council is scheduled tonight to review — and potentially approve by resolution — an agreement to keep Triple Crown summer events in Steamboat from 2011 through 2020. Triple Crown's current agreement with the city expires after this summer.

"We're pleased that they're demonstrating a long-term commitment to Steamboat Springs, and that they still consider us a premier destination," City Manager Jon Roberts said Monday. Roberts said he's heard "overwhelming support" from local business owners and residents for continuing a relationship with Triple Crown, the Fort Collins-based business that has brought summer events including baseball and softball tournaments to Steamboat since 1982.

But Triple Crown's presence long has been a thorn in the side of many residents because of impacts such as increased noise, traffic and crowds around Steamboat.

Under the new agreement, the city would pay Triple Crown a sponsorship fee of $65,000 to $80,000 annually, depending on the size and amount of Triple Crown events, in addition to dedicating at least $75,000 annually to field improvements or development. Triple Crown would pay at least $15,000 a year for local field improvements.

Bob Litzau, the city's assistant finance director, said those numbers are on par with costs and benefits related to Triple Crown in recent years.

Litzau said Mon­­day that in 2009 and 2010, the city allocated $75,000 for local field improvements and received an additional $15,000 for that purpose, each year, from Triple Crown. In 2007 and 2008, Litzau said, the city allocated $35,000 for local fields each year, and received $15,000 each year from Triple Crown.

Litzau said the city's 2009 sponsorship fee to Triple Crown was $75,000. The Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association paid $35,000 of that total.

The Chamber played a significant role in negotiating the proposed new agreement.

Sandy Evans Hall, the Chamber's executive vice president, cited Triple Crown's value to Steamboat's summer tourism season.

"The majority of people I've talked to, they're very positive about keeping Triple Crown and very excited about a long-term contract," she said. "In this economy, it's probably an insurance for our community — it's allowed us to suffer not nearly as badly in this economy, knowing that we have Triple Crown coming back."

But it's likely not coming back at current levels.

The agreement states that in 2011, Triple Crown will adopt a multi-city approach to its baseball and softball tournaments, often playing different age groups in different cities or areas including Steamboat; Orange County, Calif.; Park City, Utah; Reno, Nev.; Lake Tahoe, Cal­if.; Dallas; Chi­cago; and St. Louis.

"In our 2011 plan Steamboat Springs would host two weeks of Championship Baseball and one week of Championship Girls Fast-Pitch Softball," the contract states. "This mixed-sport solution will reduce some of the decline created by the elimination of the three existing boys divisions and replacing it with one girls division."

Chris Wilson, director of the city's Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services De­­partment, emphasized Mon­day that the agreement is just that — a license agreement for use of the city's sports fields and facilities.

He said it's not a contract, which has greater compliance requirements and potential legal penalties for noncompliance, Wilson said.

In April, Triple Crown Pres­ident Dave King said the organization's future in Steam­boat could resemble its origins in the '80s, when Triple Crown hosted one or two tournaments here each summer.

"Triple Crown wants to keep and protect the highly valued relationship it has with Steamboat Springs going forward," the proposed agreement states. "However, their new relationship will be an immediate reduction in volume."

— To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4233 or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com