Our View: Hayden gets it

If you build it, Triple Crown will come.

Hayden gets it.

Hayden is seeking its piece of the $70 a day Triple Crown participants spend by making plans to build four new ball fields by 2010.

Unlike Steamboat Springs, which has the money to draw Triple Crown but not the desire, Hayden wants the event that can bring as many as 14,000 people on a single weekend.

Triple Crown is a Fort Collins-based sports organization, which promotes baseball, softball and soccer tournaments across the country and is a key component of Steamboat's summer tourism.

Triple Crown officials have indicated they need a large, multiple-field sports complex to keep bringing the tournaments into the valley. The community that takes the lead in making that happen likely will get priority when Triple Crown begins negotiations to renew its contract with Steamboat Springs in 2007.

Steamboat Springs is the official host of Triple Crown, but two-thirds of the games are played in Craig, Hayden and Oak Creek.

It's embarrassing that Hayden seems to be the only town that knows a good thing when they see it.

The town that accommodates the most games has the potential to see the most benefit. It is the place that gets "daily" money -- breakfast, lunch and snacks -- as well as benefits when people get a break from a game and need to fill a few hours. Swimming pools and miniature golf courses are ideal time fillers.

More importantly, that's the place where hotel rooms will fill the fastest. Neighboring towns will benefit from the overflow, just as they do now.

Smaller communities cannot accommodate the numbers of people that a Triple Crown tournament brings, and that seems to be the reason why few are jumping out on a limb to build fields.

What towns need to consider is that you fill what you've got -- that's revenue that you would not have had otherwise. And, you're creating a climate where more hotels and additional restaurants could survive.

Craig lives for hunting season. Hotel owners say they wish they were twice the size during hunting season and half the size at any other time.

Parks and Recreation Department Director Dave Pike said the city would need to do a feasibility study before moving ahead with discussions, but he didn't say the city would do that study.

We think Craig will regret watching Hayden's star rise. Some group, whether it be the city, the Moffat County Tourism Association, the Craig/Moffat County Economic Development Partnership or the Craig Chamber of Commerce -- all four even -- needs to take the lead in determining how best Triple Crown could benefit Craig.

If a feasibility study is what's needed, then let's get a feasibility study done.

The EDP started the discussion last week. The primary question was how to get players from the fields to other places in Craig.

That's a great start, but let's not be afraid to think big.

Steamboat puts in $75,000 and Triple Crown brings hundreds of teams and tens of thousands of visitors who spend about $10 million during a span of eight weeks.

How many other events have that kind of impact?

Can Craig afford to build more ball fields that are only needed 10 weeks of the year?

Probably not, but it would open the door to other events and other functions and most importantly, a thriving summer tourist season. Let's expand from a boom and bust tourist business to one that benefits us year round.

What other investment could Craig make that would guarantee tens of thousands of people in our town throughout the summer?

Why not invest in a sure thing?

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