Triple Crown Sports and Steamboat Springs have been partners for 23 years.
What started as an adult slowpitch softball tournament has expanded into regional baseball and softball tournaments and multiple Triple Crown World Series dates spanning from June to August.
Boys and girls and men and women from across the country travel to Steamboat with tournament and national titles on the line. Triple Crown and Steamboat have marketed the tournaments as family vacations for several reasons.
"It's not only the mountains, it's the climate, the fun activities and the amenities we have here," said Sandy Evans Hall, executive vice president with the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association. "It's perfect for families. About March or April, the call will come in, 'Our son just won his baseball tournament, and we are coming to Steamboat Springs. What's it like? We have never been there.'"
On average, Triple Crown athletes and their families stay five nights per visit, a longer average than any other summer visitor to Steamboat.
Triple Crown games also are played in Oak Creek, Hayden and Craig's Woodbury and Loudy-Simpson Parks, making it a true Northwest Colorado affair. Adults and youths from each community also have or continue to take part in the tournaments.
"We get to host the best of the best from many areas across the country," Hall said. "It has moved from a small softball tournament to, now, hosting world championships."
Dave King founded Triple Crown in 1982. The company is based in Fort Collins, but King originally is from Meeker, a small Northwest Colorado town known for its hunting and outdoor recreation.
Hall said King's is a true success story, and his ties and affection for Northwest Colorado are seen in the way his tournaments are run.
"He has developed a great business," she said. "The fact that we are parents, and we love to have our kids involved in sports, that has been a model for his business."
Triple Crown runs tournaments in baseball, fastpitch softball, slowpitch softball, basketball and soccer. Youth baseball, youth fastpitch and adult slowpitch softball are the only sports Triple Crown brings to Northwest Colorado.
The tournament season begins with the Mountain Magic fastpitch tournament and camps for girls from June 8 to June 11. In Steamboat, games are played downtown at Howelsen Hill and at the Ski Town Fields on the east edge of Steamboat.
The summer ends with the Triple Crown Adult Slowpitch Softball Summer Nationals from Aug. 11 to 13.
In between are two months of youth baseball tournaments and World Series tournaments. For a 12-year-old baseball player in Triple Crown, the World Series is as important as it gets.
"It would be like our kids qualifying for the Olympics," Hall said, drawing comparisons between Steamboat's Olympic lineage and a child's baseball affection. "It's so exciting for them."