With the right parcel of land, Craig could become a hub for Triple Crown sports tournaments and the tourist dollars that accompany them.
Even if the 120 to 160 acres necessary to build a multi-field sports complex can be found locally, it will take a valleywide effort to make the complex a reality.
The first steps toward establishing that cooperation were taken Thursday at a meeting called by Steamboat Springs Chamber and Resort Association Executive Vice President Sandy Evans-Hall.
Representatives from Craig, Moffat County, Steamboat Springs and Hayden met to discuss interest in building a 24- to 26-field complex.
The interest is there.
City Manager Jim Ferree is seeking input from landowners who might have land that could be used for the project. Fairly flat ground with access to utilities is needed.
Hayden town officials are doing the same thing.
Steamboat likely will be a partner in the process, Evans-Hall said, but doesn't have the property available to build a complex reasonably.
"It's not that there's a lack of interest; there's a lack of land at a price that makes it feasible," she said.
The impetus for the discussion is the 2007 expiration of Triple Crown's five-year contract with Steamboat Springs. Triple Crown President Dave King has said the sports organization will not renew a contract with Steamboat Springs unless new fields are built.
"We certainly would like to keep their business in Northwest Colorado," Evans-Hall said.
A 2004 survey of Triple Crown families indicates the 32,000 people who come through Northwest Colorado during the eight-week season spend about $10 million in gross sales.
"That's significant in terms of an economic piece we wouldn't want to lose," Evans-Hall said.
She believes that that benefits of a sports complex would extend beyond what Triple Crown provides.
She envisions the construction of multiple-use fields, which could attract national sporting events including baseball, soccer, football, lacrosse, volleyball and rugby.
There are several tournaments being held in Steamboat Springs that could expand, she said, if the fields were available.
"There are a lot of field-type sports," she said. "I see this as very multijurisdictional and multi-use. It would be foolish to build something that's not multi-use."
In the winter the fields could be used for snowmobile races, dog sled competitions and cross country skiing.
It is too early in the process to know what costs would be associated with construction, Ferree said. The first step will be to find property.
Once a location is determined, Evans-Hall said, the search for funding will begin, starting with grants and possibly ending with contributions from the governments and communities who participate.
"There are a lot of opportunities for public/private partnerships on this," Evans-Hall said.
Anyone with property they think is suitable for the construction of baseball fields should contact Ferree at 826-2023.
Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org