Triple Crown will not play ball in June; council will discuss future of organized sports at June 2 meeting
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 2:40 p.m. Wednesday.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Triple Crown will not bring its tournaments to town in June, and Steamboat Springs City Council agreed Tuesday night to host a larger discussion about organized sports at its June 2 meeting.
The discussion at Tuesday’s council meeting stemmed from a May 14 article in the Steamboat Pilot & Today, in which Triple Crown Sports CEO Keri King said the organization still planned to hold its youth baseball and softball tournaments in Steamboat as early as June 11, if state public health orders surrounding the spread of COVID-19 loosened and would allow it.
That stated intention drew the ire of local residents and a response that Council President Jason Lacy described as “vehement.” Council members received hundreds of emails in opposition to Triple Crown’s plans, and an online petition asking council to cancel Triple Crown tournaments in Steamboat was signed by over 2,500 people.
King spoke to the council Tuesday night and said he also had received numerous emails from residents about Triple Crown coming to Steamboat.
“I would never want to put an event in any community that would endanger that community,” King said. “I can feel the breeze blowing in Steamboat. It’s a torrent; it’s a storm. And it’s the most visceral reaction I’ve seen in the community.”
In response, King has proposed moving the June tournaments to August and shifting to a July and August timeframe. If the tournaments were allowed to come to town, he said strict mitigation protocols for players, coaches, parents and fans would be put into place and enforced.
“I do think this is a good thing for the community, because it can bring in revenue,” King added. “I know we can bring a safe event to the community.”
Council member Michael Buccino said he wanted the city to consider locals first and he liked the idea of pushing the June events to August.
“I want to get our own rec leagues, our summer leagues and our Boys and Girls Club going, so that we can have a sense of normalcy before we open up to any outside activities,” Buccino said. “I love people visiting here, but this is way too soon, way too fast.”
Council member Kathi Meyer said the discussion about Triple Crown was coming a week early for her. She said there was still a lot of uncertainty about what the state’s next phase of reopening would look like. Polis’ safer-at-home order is set to expire May 28, and it is expected he will move to a “protect your neighbor” phase, which could allow for larger gatherings.
“I want to see the governor’s order,” Meyer said. “The number that’s been thrown around (for large gatherings) is 50, and the business model doesn’t work at 50. The other thing for me is I don’t know if we can financially afford bringing back seasonal workers to get the fields in the shape that Triple Crown has expected. But if Keri is willing to take June off the table, we’ll just keep talking and working these things through.”
In addition to concerns about public health and the possible spread of COVID-19, Lacy echoed Meyer’s worries about the fiscal impacts of hosting Triple Crown in light of budget cuts and employee furloughs.
“This has been a hard time for everyone,” Lacy said. “I don’t see how we can give a green light on anything right now. At best, all we can do is have a discussion, and we can’t give any guarantees. And we must service our community first.”
Council member Heather Sloop said she wanted to expand council’s discussion about organized sports beyond just Triple Crown. She said she was viewing the issue through the lens of a mom.
“We need to make sure that any organized sport is not jeopardizing our kids going back to school,” Sloop said. “We need to protect our community and what the fall looks like for our children.”
Triple Crown’s 10-year contract with the city expires this year.
In his council report, City Manager Gary Suiter reminded the community it is not the city canceling summer events.
“We’ve had a lot of cancellations this summer, and it’s making the summer look very foreboding,” Suiter said.
“Many people have said it’s the city council canceling these events,” Suiter explained. “These events are being canceled by boards of directors and event owners themselves.”
He said the only event the city has canceled is the Fourth of July fireworks and laser show. He also noted there were still several events in July and August that have not yet been canceled with organizers in a “wait-and-see” mode, like the Balloon Festival, Art in the Park and the Emerald Epic, formerly known as the Honey Stinger.
City Council will hold a special mid-week meeting at 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 27 to discuss Parks and Recreation facility usage based on the city’s capacity, both in terms of budget and staffing, to host groups and events considering the overall impacts from COVID-19.
The meeting agenda will also include a discussion about how the city can facilitate regulatory support to assist local businesses.
To reach Lisa Schlichtman, call 970-871-4221, email lschlichtman@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @lschlichtman.
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