Triple Crown hopes to hold youth baseball tournaments at Emerald Park this summer | SteamboatToday.com

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

Patrick McLelland, of the San Diego-based California Lookouts, fields a ground ball during a game against the Kerrville Indians during the 2016 Triple Crown World Series at Howelsen Hill. Triple Crown Sports wants to hold tournament games at Emerald Park this summer. (Photo by John F. Russell)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Triple Crown Sports, the host of several Yampa Valley youth baseball tournaments, is seeking to use baseball diamonds at Emerald Park. The request will go before the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday in the form of an amendment to Triple Crown's contract with the city.

Triple Crown is seeking use of the fields because two baseball fields at the Hayden Elementary School will be out of commission this summer as the school district constructs a new school. Triple Crown plays ball at fields in Steamboat, Hayden and Craig.

In the past, the city has not allowed Triple Crown to play at Emerald Park because of traffic and parking impacts to residents of Pamela Lane and visitors to the Yampa River Botanic Park.

By the numbers

In 2018, Triple Crown brought 417 teams to Yampa Valley tournaments, with 98 percent of those teams staying in Steamboat, according to a document in the City Council packet. Each team has an average of 36 people, including athletes, spectators and coaches. The average Triple Crown visitor spends $106.50 per day. This generates an estimated $5.7 million in direct spending.

This summer, a new access to Emerald Park was completed, which allows vehicles to enter and exit the park on Ski Town Way and Emerald Park Lane without traveling on Pamela. The gravel parking lot has also been paved, and additional sidewalks were installed.

"One of the biggest things is we're losing two fields in Hayden," said Triple Crown CEO Keri King. "The elementary school is getting a new injection of funding, and they're doing a lot of improvements there with the school district. Losing two fields in Hayden — combined with the new access point at Emerald Park— it just seemed like the right time to request access after talking with the city."

Triple Crown seeks to use the complex for a total of 19 days over the course of five tournaments between June and August both this summer and in summer 2020. In 2019, tournaments would take place June 7 to 9, June 14 to 16, June 21 to 23, July 24 to 28 and July 31 to Aug. 4.

The request is only for tournament play, Parks and Recreation Director Angela Cosby said. Triple Crown is not requesting scheduled practice time on Emerald Park fields, though the teams would be able to practice on the fields when there are no scheduled uses, just as any other sports team would be allowed to do.

Triple Crown's most recent contract was signed in 2010 and renewed in 2016. It will terminate in August 2020. City Council will have the option to direct staff to accept the proposed amendment to the contract, change the terms of the amendment or reject the amendment altogether.

"It’s gotta work for Steamboat is the whole thing, especially the local user groups that actually get on that facility, including the botanical gardens that use it for parking,” King said. “It's got to work for the city."

The proposed schedule doesn't conflict with tournaments or practice for the Steamboat Soccer Club or Yampa Valley Youth Baseball Association, according to a document set to be included in Tuesday's Parks and Recreation presentation to City Council.

If you go

What: Steamboat Springs City Council meeting
When: 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26
Where: Citizens' Meeting Room in Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

Those who cannot attend the meeting can contact City Council or watch a live video stream of the meeting by visiting the city’s website, steamboatsprings.net.

"There's only one afternoon for about three hours where it would overlap with the times that we use the field, so there's very little impact on our club," said Jan DePuy, Steamboat Soccer Club's director of administration.

The Yampa River Botanic Park's only concern is parking, Board President Sonia Franzel said.

"That's been the issue all along … that they don't have enough parking," she said. "When they restructured the parking lot, we have even less parking."

Due to parking concerns, Triple Crown would only be allowed to use three fields at a time. The Hampton Inn and Suites, which is less than a block away from the Emerald Park complex, is a Triple Crown preferred sponsor, and the organization will encourage teams staying at the hotel to walk to the park to further reduce the amount of traffic to the park, according to the document.

City Parks and Recreation staff is also exploring other parking solutions that could "accommodate for the high attendance levels" at Emerald Park and the Yampa River Botanic Park.

With the new traffic configuration, Cosby said there's no reason for visitors to Emerald Park or Yampa River Botanic Park to use Pamela Lane.

"Pamela Lane is a dead end, so you really have no purpose in entering that neighborhood to get to the park or for any park use anymore," Cosby said.

King said there's an economic value for Steamboat's lodging and business community when teams come to Steamboat.

"If Emerald Park comes into the rotation, it gives us an opportunity to keep the event at the same level," King said. "If not given access, then we may not be able to bring the same kind of team base into town.”

According to the document, Triple Crown has agreed to pay user fees for youth fields at Emerald Park, which are set at $12 per hour up to six hours and $72 for six hours or more. This is a change from the status quo. Since 2010, Cosby said Triple Crown has not been required to pay these field use fees at other Steamboat ballfields.

Under the proposed contract amendment, Triple Crown would also pay the costs of providing one community service officer for each day the fields are in use and an additional $4,285 annual contribution on top of its current $15,000 annual obligation to the city's capital improvement funds.

Triple Crown also will provide a person to support Parks and Recreation maintenance staff during the Triple Crown World Series games at Emerald Park.

The document also states Triple Crown will assist with parking to ensure teams aren't parking on Pamela Lane.

King said the organization is still firming up the details of this.

He said Triple Crown is excited to discuss the request further at Tuesday's meeting, where the Parks and Recreation Department also hopes to gather public input.

"We invite the public to attend the meeting, learn more about the proposal, participate in a conversation and provide valuable community input," she said.

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

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