Town steps up to plate |
Christine Metz

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Town steps up to plate

Hayden plans more ball fields

The town of Hayden has plans in the works that could help meet Triple Crown’s need for more ball fields in Northwest Colorado.

Hayden Town Manager Russ Martin said the Hayden Recreation Board has discussed building two new baseball fields east of Hayden Valley Elementary School as early as next summer. The town also hopes to provide another two fields on the same grounds by 2010. Those would add to two existing fields on the west side of the elementary school that are owned by the Hayden School District and used by Triple Crown.

“We want Triple Crown here. In other parts of the valley, it is questionable,” Martin said. “For us, we don’t get as much benefit as Steamboat does, but we do see some benefits.”

Hayden has earmarked $750,000 for the two fields in the draft of its capital improvement plan and has discussed applying for a Great Outdoors Colorado grant next spring that would help fund the field. If the town receives the grant, Martin said construction could start that summer.

Martin said he has discussed the plan with Triple Crown founder Dave King and Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association Vice Presi-dent Sandy Evans Hall. He also hopes Steamboat will help in obtaining grants for the project.

The idea of a sports complex in Dry Creek Park, which is near the Routt County Fairgrounds, first was discussed as a way to meet the recreational needs of Hayden’s growing population, Martin said. But it also would fit nicely into the needs of Triple Crown, which already benefits local businesses in Hayden, he said.

“Our citizens are who we are trying to accommodate. The other part, Triple Crown, we would love to accommodate. If we can do it right, we get two quality things,” Martin said.

Long-term, Triple Crown and Steamboat Springs officials have indicated that a large, multiple-field sports complex is needed to keep Triple Crown tournaments in the Yampa Valley. Just how many fields that complex would need is being debated.

However, King has made clear that the community’s ability to provide such a facility would be one of the items up for discussion in the negotiations to renew the contract with Steamboat Springs in 2007.

Although Steamboat Springs is the official host of Triple Crown tournaments, two-thirds of the games are played in Craig, Hayden and Oak Creek.

During an interview last week, King acknowledged that building a sports complex in one of the outlying communities was a possibility.

“It would be nice if it was in Steamboat. But you realize two-thirds of the events are outside of Steamboat,” King said. “That is something we live with every day. A sports complex, we accept that (it could be outside of Steamboat).”

Oak Creek and Craig representatives said they would welcome the discussion of having a sports complex built in their towns for use by Triple Crown but questioned whether they have the infrastructure, particularly lodging, to support it.

Oak Creek Mayor Kathy “Cargo” Rodeman said the community loves the added business Triple Crown brings but does not have a hotel to keep the teams overnight.

Craig Director of Parks and Recreation Dave Pike said that before moving forward with discussions of a sports complex, the city would have to do a feasibility study that weighs the costs of building facilities for Triple Crown and the tax revenue the visiting teams would generate.

The hotels in Craig only have so much capacity in the summer, he said.

“We don’t have the resources to offer folks like you do in Steamboat in the summer,” he said.

A few years ago, Craig turned down the chance to host a Triple Crown soccer tournament because city officials thought the $30,000 the city would pay to host it would be more than the tax revenue it would generate.

Pike also noted that Craig residents have not created a local demand to build more than the eight existing ball fields, which already are used by Triple Crown. If there were a greater demand, the easiest solution would be to add lights to one of the existing fields for nighttime play, he said. “It could be really hard to justify a baseball-specific complex,” Pike said.

Hayden, however, might have the will and the way. Not only are residents and businesses largely supportive of Triple Crown, but, with a 60-room hotel proposed, Martin said the town would have some of the lodging needed for Triple Crown. And, he noted, having people stay overnight is how the majority of the revenue is gained by hosting Triple Crown events.

“Businesses do real well on the weekends, but we are limited because they sleep at night in Steamboat or Craig, eat dinner and breakfast there. They come here, play baseball and go home because we have limited resources for them,” Martin said.

“The infrastructure is more than streets, roads and fields. It’s having all the facilities that make them want to stay overnight, eat and dine — like they do in Steamboat.”

Even with the possibility of a hotel, Martin said the Town Board would have to weigh the costs of a sports complex with the other needs of Hayden, such as improving Town Hall and the police station. Martin anticipates the Town Board will make those budget decisions this fall.

“We got a lot of other things in our growing community that we need to address,” Martin said.

He anticipates that town funds and grants would bear the majority of the costs for the fields now planned. Along with the GOCo grant, Martin said the town could look at grants from Energy Impact Assistance funds and other state organizations.

If all goes as planned, by 2010 the town could have four varsity-sized baseball fields with outfields available for other sports on 20 acres in Dry Creek Park. Current discussions foresee the complex having lights, bleachers, bathrooms and a storage shed.