Triple Crown still plans to come to Steamboat, starting in June
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Almost every weekend of every summer in Steamboat Springs, the fields at Howelsen Hill are packed with youth baseball and softball players participating in tournaments through Triple Crown Sports.
Despite mass cancellations across the sporting and event industry due to COVID-19, Triple Crown is planning on coming to Steamboat for its games. Of course, that is all dependent on the state guidance changing, since team sports are not yet allowed by the Colorado Department of Health.
“There’s a division on what should happen. Should we allow the businesses to fail or should we take some amount of risk?” said Keri King, CEO of Triple Crown Sports. “The local community is divided, it sounds like in Steamboat, on whether to allow for events and help the economy or focus more on safety and prevent the spread of COVID-19. That balancing act is very difficult for every community to figure out, especially ones that are so heavily reliant on tourism, such as Steamboat Springs.”
Triple Crown has canceled the Mountain Magic Girls fast-pitch softball camp scheduled for June 8 to 10 but will still spend seven weekends in Steamboat, beginning with girls fast-pitch softball June 11 to 14.
“From our department’s standpoint, if there is no state or county regulations that prevent them from coming and playing, and they want to come and play, we’ll still provide those services for them,” said Angela Cosby, Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation director.
Under current health orders, the Routt County lodging ban will lift on June 1, allowing for the tournament to continue and bring in players and their families.
There will be strict rules that each player, coach, umpire and spectator at every game must follow. Triple Crown, along with other governing bodies, stakeholders and health officials, created a set of rules that are posted on a website, Sports United Against COVID-19, or sportsuac.com.
June 11-14: Mountain Magic Fastpitch Softball
June 29-21: Mountain Magic Baseball
June 26-28: Mountain Magic Baseball
July 2-5: Adult Slow Pitch Softball
July 21-26: Triple Crown World Series
July 28-Aug. 2: Triple Crown World Series
Aug. 7-9: Mountain Magic
There are 10 rules, as well as a social distancing success plan that uses diagrams to show how players can remain socially distanced throughout warmups and the game, as well as how spectators can enjoy the game, just with more space between them.
The Sports United Against COVID-19 protocols for Diamond Sports are as follows:
1. No seeds (spitting) allowed
2. No players at home plate meeting
3. Require 6-foot distance between umpires and coaches at home plate meeting
4. No sharing of equipment
5. Digital scorecards
6. Format changes to limit time in complex (no game gap, mandatory break between games to transition people in/out of park)
7. Licking/spitting on the hands/fingers requires immediate substitution
8. Mound visits limited to pitcher, catcher and coach
9. New or clean ball between innings
10. Plate umpire is required to wear a medical mask
Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation has been brainstorming exactly what that would look like at Howelsen Hill but still haven’t reached a definite conclusion. The largest challenge will certainly be in keeping kids distanced while using dugouts and cleaning the shared space as often as possible.
“Social distancing parents, coaches, umpires and the kids in order to play a game, it’s going to be difficult,” said Ernie Jenkins, parks supervisor. “Some of the suggestions have been to line the parents up beyond the home run fence and beyond the foul fence and make sure they’re 6 feet apart on those bleachers. … That is something we would make the event organizer do.”
Enforcing the agreed-upon policies would fall to Triple Crown, rather than the city of Steamboat.
While it varies in size each year, the Mountain Magic softball tournament scheduled for June 11 brings in a lot of teams over a shorter period of time, compared to the Triple Crown World Series, which lasts nearly a full week. It’s hard to say how many teams will participate in summer events this year, though.
“We love Steamboat. We’d like to be in Steamboat for another decade. Our commitment to Steamboat is a solid one,” King said. “We’d like to do it the right way and gain favor from even the constituents that think the events are too much right now. I’d like to alert that individual that we will unveil an event that parents feel comfortable putting their kids in.”
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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