City Council votes to move forward on Triple Crown contract
Some members of council referred to the new contract as “Triple Crown light”
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs City Council voted 5-2 Tuesday to move forward on approving a contract between the city and Triple Crown Sports.
The revised two-year contract, which some council members referred to as “Triple Crown light,” requires Triple Crown to pay $35,000 to $40,000 in field use fees each year, no sponsorship fee from the city and no capital investment from the city. The contract also specifies play is limited to youth events only, with no more than 70 teams for Triple Crown’s largest events.
“The current agreement under consideration is much different from the prior one and addresses many concerns voiced,” said Steamboat Parks & Recreation Director Angela Cosby.
Triple Crown and City Council began discussing their future move forward this summer when Keri King, CEO of Triple Crown Sports, submitted a variance request asking the Routt County Board of Health for permission to host the tournaments in July and August, according to Steamboat Springs City Manager Gary Suiter. The county requested input from City Council before making a decision on whether to forward the variance request to the state.
In June, council members unanimously voted not to endorse the request to allow Triple Crown tournaments this past summer.
In October, council and Triple Crown each proposed options relating to public health guidelines, field-use fees and city sponsorship fees, and council members expressed mixed feelings over a partnership with Triple Crown. The contract that council discussed Tuesday came after months of negotiations between the two entities.
While Triple Crown has held baseball tournaments in Steamboat for more than 10 years, many city residents believed their impact was too large, said City Council President Jason Lacy.
“I think what we’ve heard very loud and clear from the community is the impact from Triple Crown has become too much over the past decade,” he said. “This new contract is an attempt to see a much more reduced impact that might be acceptable for the community.”
Other city staff and council members said they believed Triple Crown’s poor reputation was undeserved, and the business they bring to the city outweighed any negative results from their tournaments.
“They’re great partners to work with; they treat our fields and our staff better than any other group,” Cosby said. “Events such as Triple Crown are one piece of the pie for a community that relies on tourism and events for financial success and supporting amenities enjoyed by all.”
The two council members who voted against continuing discussions on the Triple Crown contract, Sonja Macys and Heather Sloop, both said city residents and businesses think Triple Crown’s large crowds are a cause for concern as COVID-19 continues into 2021.
“I’m concerned about what’s going to happen when the influx of residents comes in — all of these folks that have been purchasing our real estate at record levels,” Macys said. “I think we need to give this some time to play out with COVID and how it looks for us coming down the pipeline.”
Sloop agreed and referenced a survey sent to local business owners this summer seeking their input on Triple Crown in which 37% of survey respondents said they were not supportive of the city working with Triple Crown Sports.
“We’ve had numerous public comments asking us to please not do this,” Sloop added.
Michael Buccino, who voted in support of a first reading but said he may change his mind for a second and final approval, told his fellow council members that multiple business owners have expressed distaste for Triple Crown.
“The challenge that I have is there are a lot of people that don’t want them here,” he said. “The other side of it is that we’re limiting the contract down to a reasonable scope.”
Kara Stoller, CEO of the Steamboat Springs Chamber, said if the city allows for its return, the sales tax revenue Triple Crown generates will be a large benefit to businesses struggling due to COVID-19.
“Getting out of this, we’re going to need as much support as possible, and having a guarantee of business coming early summer next year provides a lot of additional hope and ability for businesses to plan on,” she said. “Triple Crown has been a great partner for many years for the business community.”
Scott Marr, owner of the Holiday Inn in Steamboat Springs, said the only noticeable strain Triple Crown brings to his hotel is needing an additional staff member to monitor children running around the hallways.
“I don’t understand why additional animosity exists for Triple Crown over other sports teams that come here,” he said.
City Council will conduct a second, and final, reading on the Triple Crown contract in 2021.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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