BEHIND THE HEADLINES
Can Steamboat keep the Crown?
Q. From your perspective, how is the summer going?
A. Outstanding! Our top issue is usually weather. The rains have cooperated and provided us the conditions to play great ball. Our attendance numbers for the summer have been strong with the Colorado State events in June drawing at or near record attendance for the three weeks of youth baseball, girls fast-pitch and adult slow-pitch. The chamber and lodging community in Steamboat have done an exceptional job in housing the teams and families and establishing procedures to handle the various needs of the teams.
The community and the surrounding towns of Craig, Hayden and Oak Creek have made our players and families feel both welcome and appreciated and we thank you very much. The championships are at record attendance numbers for youth baseball with 252 teams playing the first two weeks and approximately 11,000 players and family in attendance for just these two events.
The quality of play has been exceptional with top teams from Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Kentucky, Illinois, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, South Dakota, Arkansas, Canada, and Mexico in attendance throughout the championship’s 5 weeks.
The girls fast-pitch event has 108 teams and the adult slow-pitch concludes the championships with 115 teams. We have our final event on Labor Day weekend with the 3-on-3 soccer tournament, which we expect will draw 100 teams in its second year. It has been a great summer Steamboat Spring and Northwest Colorado.
Q. What expansion or growth plans do you have for Triple Crown?
A. We are planning to move one of our youth championships out of Steamboat in 2003 even with a new contract.
The size of the youth events is growing at a rate of 20 percent per year and should continue for some time. The facility situation and available weekends are currently full in Steamboat.
We are not planning any additional weeks of Triple Crown in Steamboat and, pending the negotiations with the city, there could be less weeks of Triple Crown.
We currently play over 35 days on two fields in Oak Creek, one field in Hayden and eight fields in Craig. At this time over 60 percent of the games are played outside of Steamboat. We have creatively added the surrounding communities that we can to the event but our choices are becoming limited on facilities to expand to on the days we have available.
In addition, the times we have available at Howelsen have been reduced in the evenings. Growth seems to be out of the question at this time.
Q. How key is securing the use of the Emerald Park baseball fields to Triple Crown remaining in Steamboat Springs in the future?
A. They are not the most critical issue, however ample quality facilities are. The budgets for Howelsen Field and Ski Town for improvements are without sufficient capital improvement dollars for turf, infield surfaces, fences, and other items.
This is the case with all of six of the main Steamboat fields we use. The City parks staff has done all they can to keep them playable and should be commended, but they are just wearing out from the multiple uses they get from soccer, football, softball, baseball, and Triple Crown. Money is needed to keep, improve, and develop the facilities that Triple Crown and the citizens need.
During our time in Steamboat Springs, the City’s financial needs have changed and we agree and support their strategy to get their financial commitments in line with their revenues.
Before there were many tourists in the summers, the financial commitment to the fields was much clearer in regards to making sure they met our needs.
We are not citizens, but guests, and we believe the first strategy should always be to satisfy the needs of the citizens first. However, the conflict between the citizens’ need for a healthy economy and the need to protect ones’ lifestyle will continue to be the primary issue in regards to Triple Crown and Steamboat.
We would not cost the youth of Steamboat their right to play and would not expect to gain access to Emerald if doing so would create that situation.
But some new facilities or dates would need to be created to handle even our current needs. Emerald may not be the solution for any of us.
Q. What is the role Tripe Crown plays in the success of Steamboat Springs’ summer tourism season?
A. In financial terms, we have become a main summer catalyst for destination travelers.
We currently have 32,000 guests staying an average of 5 nights each year. The financial impact is over $10 million to the community.
But on the down side, we have changed the summer experience for the citizens who are not tied to tourism. Most of the down side impact is the volume of people who fill their favorite restaurants, occupy the available downtown parking, create more traffic (however we are a car pool model group with an average of 5 people to a vehicle), create noise at the condominiums, slow down grocery buying, and in general cause more growth. This is the toughest issue of financial success and the impact of the tourists themselves.
Q. What are the key elements for Triple Crown in negotiating a new contract with the city of Steamboat Springs?
A. Many of the issues have been covered above such as capital improvements to the fields we currently use and/or access to additional facilities or dates.
We are currently financially participating in the renovation of Adams Field with the Rockies, a Rockies player Mike Myers and the city.
But much more of this needs to happen immediately.
Our financial request will be very similar to what we have in the current contract. However, the sentiment we receive from the city officials and Council tends to point to higher priority financial commitments than Triple Crown and to the citizens requests to protect their lifestyle issues. Should that happen, our staff and participants would be saddened, but would understand. We have begun to discuss alternative plans with cities like Park City, Utah, and St. Augustine, Fla. But we will entertain any and all solutions to remain in Steamboat before making any decisions. Our 19 years of marriage with Steamboat has been one of the biggest highlights of Triple Crown’s history. We would love it to make 50.
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