Saturday, August 27, 2005
A major multiuse sports complex in the Hayden area could be the best thing for Hayden, Steamboat Springs and Triple Crown in the long run.
Considering all the angst that Triple Crown has created in Steamboat, giving up on attempts to build more fields here and instead moving its local home base down the road would appease Steamboat critics and boost Hayden's commerce.
We understand that Hayden is no different from Steamboat in terms of Triple Crown dynamics: Businesses and residents alike are divided in their views, wondering whether the revenue boost it brings really is worth the crowds and traffic.
But in the bigger picture, for a growing town struggling to instill a sense of community in a largely commuter population, supporting commerce is critical.
Triple Crown Sports President Dave King claims his tournaments bring $10 million to $15 million to the Yampa Valley every summer, the lion's share of which now stays in Steamboat. But by moving the bulk of games to a Hayden sports complex, the town should see more of those tournament dollars flowing to its restaurants, shops and hotels. That, in turn, would provide a much-needed boost to Hayden's business district -- which, while on the upswing, still has too many unused or underused commercial spaces.
As the town braces for a population surge, having a vibrant downtown offering a variety of shops, restaurants and services will help new residents see Hayden as the place they live, play, shop and eat -- not just the place they sleep between trips to Steamboat and Craig.
Plus, many residents long have pushed for increasing the number of recreational opportunities available in Hayden. Although having 16 to 24 multiuse fields at their disposal -- plus existing fields and those already planned for Dry Creek Park -- clearly is overkill, the complex and the additional activities it could host certainly would help add to Hayden's recreational offerings.
At the same time, shifting the bulk of Triple Crown games away from Steamboat would solve several city problems. First, as city officials have recognized, there simply isn't the land in the city to build the type of complex Triple Crown requires. Second, moving the bulk of games 20 miles down the road might reduce the noise, traffic and other issues Triple Crown critics long have railed against, while keeping most of those visitors (and their wallets) returning to Steamboat hotels and attractions in the evenings. The same could be said for Craig -- another benefit of Hayden's central location in the valley.
This sports complex, the feasibility and location of which still are undetermined, could be a chance for all of Northwest Colorado to work together. While Triple Crown certainly is the motivating force and would be the chief benefactor of these new fields, the economic and recreational opportunities they present -- the fields would be open for a variety of sports, groups and other uses -- would benefit Steamboat, Hayden and Craig.
We encourage the leaders in these communities to work with Triple Crown to find the funding necessary to build the complex and thereby secure the future of one of the valley's single largest sources of summer income.
Build it, and Triple Crown will stay. Build it in Hayden, and it will benefit our valley.