Our View: Time has come to allow Triple Crown pilot program at Emerald Park
December 14, 2013
Triple Crown’s request to host youth baseball tournament games at Emerald Park
It’s time to play ball, roll the Steamboat Springs Transit shuttle buses and give Triple Crown a trial run.
We think the time has come for the city of Steamboat Springs to allow a pilot program to permit a limited number of Triple Crown youth baseball games to be played on the forbidden diamonds at Emerald Park. That's the only way the community can judge just how much traffic that step would add to the existing traffic that disturbs residents on Trafalgar and Pamela lanes.
We don't disagree that a new access from U.S. Highway 40, if it were affordable and feasible, would be preferable. But 11 years have passed since an earlier Steamboat Springs City Council resolved to get that accomplished, and we editorialized in favor of the plan at an estimated cost of $2 million to $4 million. The lineup has changed, but the city still is hitless.
Now, we find ourselves wondering if adding Triple Crown traffic to a few of weekends in June really would represent a significant change for the residents of the neighborhood, or if it's all of the other events at the nearby parks (including local youth sports and weddings and concerts at the Yampa River Botanic Park) that represent the bulk of the traffic disturbance. We also find ourselves wondering how the community can continue formally discriminating against one group of youth sports teams while hosting others.
Yes, Triple Crown is a for-profit business, but the baseball families who come here to spend their summer vacations are no different from any of the other visitors who help us to fill our municipal coffers. According to Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association CEO Tom Kern, Triple Crown brings in 16,000 players and visitors to Steamboat each summer and an estimated $6 million annually in lodging alone.
We think practical considerations, more than cost, could make it infeasible to build the new U.S. 40 access to Emerald. Union Pacific Railroad will require abandonment of more than one other railroad crossing in exchange for the new crossing. That means it no longer would be possible to cross from one side of the tracks to the other on two existing roads.
We offer an alternative.
Steamboat already uses its transit bus to shuttle spectators to the Hot Air Balloon Rodeo in July and the Wild West Air Fest on Labor Day weekend. Why not save a few million dollars and apply the same strategy to Triple Crown's request to utilize the youth baseball diamonds at Emerald Park?
Using buses to shuttle athletes and their families to matches during the Steamboat Mountain Soccer Tournament also might alleviate traffic and commotion for the 26 households along Trafalgar and Pamela lanes.
Some of the residents near Emerald Park (and they are valued members of the community) have reminded us that a long-ago City Council promised them Triple Crown teams would not be allowed to play ball in Emerald Park.
But here's the hard truth. City Councils don't bind their successors by making promises. Instead, they vote to approve ordinances. And when it comes to city ordinances, they can be amended and changed at any time.