Stepping up to the plate

Triple Crown could mean big bucks for community, director says

An official for Triple Crown Sports, which recently signed a five-year contract with Steamboat Springs, says he has an idea that could eventually generate at least $500,000 in summertime revenue for the Craig area -- if the community is interested.

While Craig doesn't have the facilities to host a 100-team softball or baseball tournament like some of those hosted in Steamboat Springs, Sean Hardy, team sports director for Triple Crown Sports, said Craig is capable of hosting one age bracket from one of those tournaments.

The age bracket could mean Craig could see 16 teams in a weekend, he said.

In years past, and for this summer, Craig is scheduled to host several trickle-down games from the Steamboat Springs tournaments at several local fields.

Hardy said right now most of those competitors who play in Craig stay in Steamboat Springs and travel to Craig when necessary for games.

But if an entire age group were scheduled to play all of its games in Craig, the teams and those who travel with the team, which he averaged to be about 35 people, would stay and spend their money in Craig.

"I suggested this as something we can work on for down the road over the next five years," Hardy said.

Right now, the city and school district have agreed to allow overflow play from Steamboat Springs for four weekends this summer.

Hardy said he has contacted the county about holding games at Loudy-Simpson those four weekends but has not received word back yet.

County Parks and Recreation Director Steve Grandbouche said he was under the impression that Loudy-Simpson would be used those weekends, and said he would call Triple Crown to verify the fields' use.

Hardy said the county facilities are great places to play.

"Loudy-Simpson has the best facilities in the valley," he said.

Mikki O'Brien, director of the Moffat County Tourism Association, brought the idea of Craig hosting its own brackets to the Moffat County commissioners last month.

But the commissioners were hesitant in giving their seal of approval, and told O'Brien and the tourism association to investigate the income potential of Craig hosting its own brackets.

The income generated by the tournament play must offset the cost of upkeep it takes on the fields, the commissioners said.

The commissioners also were concerned about too much outside use on the fields, which might prevent locals from using it.

Hardy stressed he is not trying to force anything upon the community and said it was simply a suggestion he made to the tourism board.

"We might start with only one weekend a summer and let it grow over the next few years," he said. "We would never want to take away from the local population's usage of the fields."

If Craig were to host its own bracket, Hardy said the community would have to make sure it could handle the increased capacity.

The community would have to make sure no other large events, such as conventions, would be taking place on the weekends in which the brackets were held in Craig because of a limited amount of lodging availability, he said.

O'Brien agreed that the tourism board, hotel owners and local officials would have to reach a consensus on when the tournaments

would be held.

"We're planning on getting all the entities to work together," she said. "Everyone agrees that there's an opportunity there."

One item Hardy said he would like to discuss further with the county, are the reimbursements Triple Crown gives for use of the fields.

Right now, the county charges Triple Crown $150 per day, per field for use of the Loudy-Simpson ball diamonds.

But Hardy said the organization prefers to make donations directly to field improvements.

For example, he said about $4,000 has been donated in the past to both the city and school district for new dirt for their fields and sprinkler systems.

"We like to donate the money directly to field improvements so we know it is benefiting the kids," he said.

O'Brien said the tourism board is still investigating the potential of holding its own bracket in Craig.

Josh Nichols can be reached at 824-7031 or jnichols@craigdailypress.com.

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