Triple Crown applies to return to Steamboat through special event permitting process
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — After Steamboat Springs City Council voted 4-3 against renewing a contract with Triple Crown Sports, the youth sports organization could return to Steamboat this summer through the city’s special event permit process, which all outside event groups are required to fill out if they’d like to hold events in town.
“I truly think our community is going to feel like they were bamboozled, and they got screwed,” council member Lisel Petis said. “The community is going to feel a pretty negative reaction to this.”
Steamboat City Manager Gary Suiter, who has the ultimate say over whether or not Triple Crown can return, said the city has “no choice but to be fair and objective” in its decision.
“Our job is to treat everyone fairly and equitably,” Suiter said Wednesday. “If someone applies for use of facilities, we treat them like everyone else.”
Because Triple Crown has earned a controversial reputation and council voted not to allow them back, Suiter said once the permit reaches his desk, he will bring the matter back to council. From there, if council chooses to request denial of the permit, it will be up to council members and City Attorney Dan Foote to find legal grounds to do so.
If Triple Crown’s permit is granted, they will return under the same terms and conditions previously negotiated in a contract with City Council — requiring 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.
Triple Crown has applied with the city to play at Emerald Park, but they have also historically played at fields owned by the Steamboat Springs School District, and the decision to allow them on school fields is up to the district.
Several council members said they were surprised to hear Triple Crown applied to return.
“I was kind of blindsided,” council member Michael Buccino said. “We made this vote, and then the very next week, I find out that they’re applying for special events.”
Because of this, council opted to hold a discussion in March to revisit how event permits are granted, not just for Triple Crown but for all special events.
“This has to include all sports that utilize our fields, not just baseball and softball,” said council member Robin Crossan. “Anything that stresses out our staff needs to be evaluated on an even playing field.”
Keri King, CEO of Triple Crown Sports, said in an interview Wednesday the group applied to come back because they felt they owed their customers an experience in Steamboat, which has been the tradition for 39 years.
“We just assumed we would be invited back for our 40th year, and we had indication from the City Council and staff that everything was going well,” King said. “We already had lodging arrangements and paid entry dues, and we want to focus on making sure we can deliver what we promised to our customer, which is an experience in Steamboat.”
Though many Steamboat residents and City Council members have expressed negative feelings toward Triple Crown — including one council member sharing a series of “nightmare stories” she’d heard from constituents — King said he believes more residents favor Triple Crown than dislike them, referencing a survey sent to local business owners in which 63% of respondents were supportive of the tournaments.
“For every person that is upset at Triple Crown coming back, there are quite a few people who are excited,” King said.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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