Triple Crown’s impact shrinks
July 20, 2011
The Triple Crown Tournament, Independence Day and Pioneer Day together make July the best summer month for business. Unfortunately, the tournament’s economic impact has been shrinking.
According to Triple Crown event director Bill Walters, there are 30 fewer fast-pitch softball teams participating in the second week that began Monday. For the first time, the third week will be boys’ baseball – but still 27 fewer teams than the tournament attracted last year.
Triple Crown draws many attendees from California where the recession is still acutely felt, Walters explained.
"No matter where you go you see people pinching pennies and watching their budget. The country still hasn’t come out of that," he said.
Fewer teams mean fewer hotel rooms. Walters said Triple Crown’s contract includes a requirement that every team book a minimum number of rooms with established lodging partners in Park City.
Unfortunately for the hotels, many of the older girls have been attending the tournaments without their families, Walters said.
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"I’ve definitely seen the difference," said Janeth Olachea with the Park Plaza Resort. "People don’t have the money to travel."
The entire family used to come to see the girls play and enjoy a vacation – even grandparents, she said. Now girls are arriving with one parent or are staying with teammates. That means they also want smaller units, she said.
Ricky Stroud, general manager of The Park Regency, said his annual budget assumes a certain revenue from the tournament and he’s not seeing the numbers this year.
He’s still grateful for the business it brings, but would like to see it return to what it used to be.
Casey Winters with The Yarrow echoed that. Each week of the tournament brings about 20 room reservations and the guests often eat in the restaurant. Still, it’s clear the attendees are more budget conscious than in the past, he said.
To accommodate that trend, the Park City Peaks Hotel has introduced cheaper breakfast and lunch options, said sales manager Debbie Basrak. That does translate to less profit, however.
The tournament also has restaurant partners, many of which are in the Snow Creek Plaza. Those establishments appreciate the business the tournament brings, Walters said, but fewer Main Street eateries joined the partnership this year. He believes it is because the city moved the opening parades, he said.
The Historic Park City Alliance voted to move the parade of teams each Monday of the tournament to lower Main Street. That’s disappointing to many of the families, Walters said, adding that he’s looking for a new venue.
David Ireland, manager of the Red Banjo Pizzeria on upper Main Street, used to get great business from the parades.
"We’re down substantially," he said. "We’re down 50 percent after the first week The tournament is where you usually make your summer money and we’re not seeing that."
Historic Park City Alliance executive director Alison Butz said the old route from the Wasatch Brew Pub to Java Cow Coffee required the parade to be staged on Swede Alley and in the China Bridge parking garage. That was difficult for the businesses, especially the upstairs offices, she said.
The new route begins at Heber Avenue.
"(The parade) received more support from the businesses in that area," she said.
Erika Arche at Reyes Adobe said the restaurant loved having all that foot traffic last week.
"It was really, really good," she said.
Randy Winzeler, owner of Atticus Books & Tea House, said he had a little more business than usual.
"Having the parade is better than not; there was more business than a normal Monday night," he said.
Despite all the challenges, Triple Crown is committed to being successful in Park City, Walters said. A five-year contract was renewed last year.
The tournament "bottomed out" last year, and he expects team attendance to only improve.