For the first time, Triple Crown will play ball at Emerald Park | SteamboatToday.com

For the first time, Triple Crown will play ball at Emerald Park

A Triple Crown baseball player warms up in the on-deck circle in 2007. (File photo)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — This summer, Triple Crown Sports teams will play on three baseball diamonds in Emerald Park.

The Steamboat Springs City Council decided Tuesday night to allow the youth sports company to hold tournament play in the park in summer 2019. In the fall, City Council and Triple Crown will review how the games impacted the park and its surrounding area to determine whether to allow Triple Crown games in Emerald Park in 2020.

Triple Crown hopes to hold youth baseball tournaments at Emerald Park this summer

In a show of hands, members of the audience in council chambers were evenly divided between those who supported and opposed Triple Crown’s use of Emerald Park.

Council members decided to allow the one-year trial with several conditions, including a damage deposit from Triple Crown, a parking plan created by city staff and a commitment from Triple Crown that its schedule wouldn’t interfere with scheduled events at Emerald Park and the neighboring Yampa River Botanic Park.

Triple Crown will pay field use fees for the park and fund a community service officer for the five tournaments it will host at the park.

Council member Sonja Macys did not support Triple Crown’s proposal, and council member Lisel Petis was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

Most of those who voiced their disapproval for the proposal were affiliated with the Yampa River Botanic Park, which shares a parking lot with Emerald Park. Those who spoke in favor of the proposal were members of Steamboat’s lodging community and baseball referees and coaches.

Cindy Wither, a plein air artist, said a group of about 15 painters gather at the Botanic Park every Wednesday in the summertime. She worried about the impacts that Triple Crown would have on parking at Emerald Park, as she and the other artists wrangle art supplies from the parking lot to the Botanic Park.

“It sounds like a small amount, but it is something we really enjoy and is something we do every summer,” she said. “The summers are short, and the flowers are beautiful. They change every week.”

Of the park’s 135 spaces, 10 are designated for the Botanic Park.

Another artist and several other Botanic Park users worried the noise of more frequent baseball games would disrupt the serenity of the park.

Others wanted to see the field used by local athletes.

“This is a community park, next to a botanical garden,” Council President Pro-Tem Kathi Meyer said. “Whether it’s a local kid yelling or a visitor, a 10-year-old screaming ‘Yay!’ is still going to be a 10-year-old screaming ‘Yay!'”

Those in favor of allowing Triple Crown to use the fields said parking problems could be mitigated by carpooling.

“I coached travel ball for about 10 years, and it’s true that we carpool,” said Jim Hansen, representing the Yampa Valley Youth Baseball Association. “The amount of cars that are going to be down there is truly going to be minimal. They pack all the kids in, because the parents want to stay in the condo. The coaches take the kids to the field and some of the parents show up, but they all carpool because what they’re doing is going downtown and throwing back a few cocktails, grabbing a designated driver and then coming and watching baseball.”

Hansen added that up to five Yampa Valley Youth Baseball Association teams play in Triple Crown tournaments annually.

City staff were instructed to explore leasing a neighboring lot for additional parking in the area. Triple Crown and the Botanic Park will also be at the table when possible parking solutions, including shuttles or limiting the number of vehicles a Triple Crown team would be allowed to park at Emerald Park, are discussed.

“We’ll get a good plan going, and it will work,” Triple Crown CEO Keri King said.

King also told council the organization could discourage teams from practicing on the fields at Emerald Park when the fields have no scheduled use.

Being able to play at Emerald Park allows Triple Crown to avoid financial loss and a decrease in customers who like to play in competitions with large divisions and lots of teams.

He said he hoped Triple Crown would be on Emerald Park in 2030 because the organization does a good job of re-injecting capital, scheduling, parking and policing parking.

“I think we’ll be great stewards of this beautiful gem that sits in the middle of the valley,” King said. “We won’t mess this thing up, because we’d like to play there down the road. It’s not something that we just want for one year. We want to be good stewards of Emerald Park, just like we have been of Howelsen.”

To view the meeting in which this topic was discussed, visit http://docs.steamboatsprings.net:10100/OnBaseAgendaOnline.

To reach Eleanor Hasenbeck, call 970-871-4210, email ehasenbeck@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @elHasenbeck.


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