Triple Crown Sports wants to use the baseball fields at Emerald Park in Steamboat Springs for its summer tournaments.

Photo by Brian Ray

Triple Crown Sports wants to use the baseball fields at Emerald Park in Steamboat Springs for its summer tournaments.

City considers Triple Crown extension

— Triple Crown Sports wants to use the playing fields at Steamboat Springs' Emerald Park as part of its proposed two-year contract extension with the city.

Historically, Triple Crown Sports has used baseball fields at Howelsen Hill and Strawberry Park Elementary School as well as facilities in Hayden, Craig and Yampa, according to Chris Wilson, director of Steamboat Springs Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department. In extending its contract with the city through 2010, Triple Crown is seeking to use the fields at Emerald Park for the first time, he said.

Triple Crown Sports is a Fort Collins-based business that organizes youth and adult baseball and softball tournaments. The summer tournaments typically bring teams from across the country to Steamboat Springs for a two-month period every summer.

The Parks and Recreation Commission will be the first city government body to consider the contract extension when it meets tonight, Wilson said.

The community's invited if they want to come and participate in that public process, Wilson said.

Triple Crown officials want to use the Emerald Park fields four days a week during their World Series baseball and softball tournaments. Games would not take place on Thursdays because of Music on the Green, and Triple Crown usage would be limited from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. so as not to interfere with existing local programs such as Little League, Wilson said.

Triple Crown founder and president Dave King could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The Triple Crown World Series, scheduled for July 21 to Aug. 9, typically brings about 125 baseball and softball teams to the Yampa Valley every week, Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association Executive Vice President Sandy Evans Hall said. Between players, coaches and families, each team brings about 40 people to town, she said.

"It's such a huge event - we're very fortunate to have it," Evans Hall said. "It brings in family, it brings in youth, it brings in the people that we really market to as a community."

The annual event is estimated to bring $10 million in sales to the community - and $500,000 in sales tax revenue for the city of Steamboat Springs alone, Evans Hall said.

Northwest Colorado Sports Complex

While discussion about constructing a regional Northwest Colorado Sports Complex near Hayden still is ongoing, Triple Crown has requested a contract extension shorter than the three- to five-year contracts the city has historically signed, Wilson said.

Construction of the sports complex is a long-term solution for Triple Crown, with the current extension on the table just a bridge to get to that point, Evans Hall said. Triple Crown officials have threatened to stop bringing their tournaments to Northwest Colorado if better facilities aren't provided.

"While they're working on that process, they're asking to extend for the two years so they can continue to be here in Steamboat," Wilson said.

"We'd like to keep them here," Evans Hall said. "The money that is spent in the community for food and lodging, and all the activities - that would be very difficult for the community to replace."

The proposed site for the $9.6 million sports complex, which could house 14 fields or more, is adjacent to the Villages at Hayden subdivision on the south side of town. The developers plan to bring an annexation proposal to Hayden's town government in the next few months, Evans Hall said.

"It's tough because we know (Triple Crown's) business plan is to grow and be able to compete with other tournament producers," she said. "We'd like to provide them that capacity here in our community."

To reach Melinda Dudley, call 871-4203 or e-mail mdudley@steamboatpilot.com

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