Triple Crown strikes out in efforts to return this summer to Steamboat
For the first time in almost four decades, the Triple Crown series of youth baseball and softball tournaments will not be held in Steamboat Springs.
In a unanimous 7-0 vote during a regular meeting Tuesday, members of the Steamboat Springs City Council decided not to endorse a variance that would have asked the state health department to allow Triple Crown’s tournaments to move forward this July and August in Steamboat.
While Gov. Jared Polis is expected to amend the state’s guidelines pertaining to COVID-19 later this week, council noted the existing public health order on behalf of the state limits gatherings to 10 people unless otherwise allowed by health officials.
Keri King, CEO of Triple Crown Sports, had submitted a variance request asking the Routt County Board of Health for the ability to host the tournaments in July and August, according to Steamboat Springs City Manager Gary Suiter. The county requested input from City Council before making a decision on whether to forward the variance request to the state.
“If the community says it’s not the right time, we’ll walk away from 2020,” King said. “In the event that the variance doesn’t pass, then Triple Crown will be forced to relocate the events to where they can be played.”
Triple Crown wanted the variance to be approved by Friday to allow participants adequate time to plan for the tournaments.
“Given the short turnaround time, it is highly unlikely the state will have a ruling by June 19,” Suiter said.
Suiter gave council three options for considering the variance request: support the variance and ask the county board of health and state health department to expedite a decision allowing baseball tournaments to occur this summer, take no position on the variance request or inform the county the city does not support the variance request.
City staff recommended council not support the variance.
City Council members ultimately decided to follow the staff’s recommendation and refocus efforts to hold Triple Crown in 2021.
Hosting Triple Crown would have cost the city about $65,000, which had already been built into the current city budget. The city’s ballfields are available to be used by the public by way of reservations, but they are only receiving baseline maintenance, according to Suiter.
Discussion regarding hosting Triple Crown this year was mixed, as council members and members of the public considered the impacts from both a public health and fiscal standpoint.
Council member Michael Buccino had indicated there was “a groundswell of opposition” toward Triple Crown voiced by many community members.
“This goes deeper than the public health order,” Buccino said.
He added that Triple Crown has a “tarnished reputation” but not due to the Steamboat community. He noted the poor attitudes of many of the participants toward locals.
“We’ve already lost all the things the community actually likes, why would we go out of our way for something that Steamboat Springs people dread every year?” said Steamboat resident Sam Ogden.
Others worried about the potential economic impacts of not holding the event, which contributes to city sales tax and lodging.
“The loss of Triple Crown is not sustainable for Steamboat,” said Barbara Robinson, Steamboat resident and general manager of Holiday Inn Steamboat Springs. “They are a partner we’re not willing to lose.”
According to a study completed by Yampa Valley Data Partners in 2015, the city could lose up to $340,000 in additional sales tax revenue without Triple Crown. Citing third-party research, King said not having Triple Crown this year would also result in a loss of 68 jobs in Steamboat.
Council member Heather Sloop told King the city would likely come with a larger ask when it renegotiates its contract.
After deciding to forgo a 2020 season for Triple Crown, Buccino suggested the funds previously budgeted for the tournaments be used to support local summer youth camps. That measure was also unanimously approved by council.
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