A little more than two weeks after the USA Pro Challenge rolled through Aspen and Snowmass Village, event organizers already are looking to make a bid to serve as host communities again next year.
Nancy Lesley, director of special events for the city of Aspen, appeared at a special meeting of the Snowmass Village Marketing, Special Events & Group Sales Board to gauge the town’s interest in participating again. The board’s response was mostly positive, although the members want some concerns addressed and didn’t commit to any funding.
This year’s event, which kicked off Aug. 19 with a circuit race between the two communities, was the first that Snowmass Village participated in as a host city. Snowmass dedicated $112,700 from its marketing fund in support of the race this year.
Board member Scott Calliham, owner of Base Camp Bar & Grill and Slice, said while watching the television coverage of the race that he didn’t hear the announcers mentioning Snowmass or Aspen/Snowmass. He said his Base Village restaurants saw a boost in business from the opening ceremonies Aug. 17 but not on the day of the race.
“There really wasn’t much of a spotlight on Snowmass, and I think that was a really big disappointment,” Calliham said.
Board member Hugh Templeman, general manager of the Viceroy Snowmass, said he is lobbying outside the board to get the exact same event in Snowmass next year because of the international exposure it provides and the high occupancy numbers.
“We had a whole bunch more people in this area than we would ever have had,” Templeman said.
Lesley told the board she wants to move forward with the process soon — she plans to make a submission within the next week — in the hopes of having more time to prepare for next year’s race. Last year, the Pro Challenge announced its host cities just before Christmas, and that made it difficult for businesspeople to start planning for it.
“There’s a chance that then we have this fall season to make some headway,” she said.
Group Sales Director Fred Brodsky asked whether the town could get some data about the economic impact of the race. Templeman questioned the need for that and compared the race to the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Festival, to which the marketing fund also contributes annually.
“You’re filling rooms at full price,” Brodsky said. “It’s two different animals.”
Many rooms, particularly at the Westin and Wildwood hotels, were set aside for the athletes and other race-associated individuals.
Chairman Robert Sinko jumped in, saying the board needs to see more statistics.
“I’m sure Aspen wants to see the whole package, as well,” Sinko said. “From this board at this time, this is something that we’re interested in.”
Calliham asked Lesley if there was an opportunity to form a two- to three-year contract with the race.
“It’s something we’ve talked about since Day One with them,” Lesley said. “I think with this formation of this partnership, perhaps we have a stronger package and a stronger argument.”
Snowmass Tourism Director Yan Baczkowski asked whether there would be an opportunity to address some of the town’s concerns, which for him included fewer room nights than initially promised.
“I think everything is fixable,” Lesley said.
Board member John Borthwick said that for him, the issue was getting across the Aspen/Snowmass brand in the publicity created by the race.
“It’s about tightening up that whole thing about the brand,” Borthwick said.