How much X is too much?
February 7, 2007
ASPEN In the wake of record-breaking X Games attendance 75,000 over four days both Aspen’s mayor and police chief wonder: How much is too much?According to a city news release Thursday, Aspen police responded to at least 521 calls for service, making 35 arrests over the four days of the X Games. Though the press release said the weekend went over “without major incident,” there were arrests for assault on a police officer, numerous other assaults and a gun fired in the vicinity of police making a traffic stop. “What is the capacity for the X Games?” asked Aspen Police Chief Loren Ryerson. “It’s certainly not just a police issue.”Mayor Helen Klanderud said a policy session will review how the event could be better next year and that she wasn’t ready to comment on whether Aspen had reached capacity. Officially, capacity on the special event permit for X Games is 12,000 spectators per day, going up to 15,000 including staff, athletes, support, VIPs and others. No matter how you slice it, that’s a far cry from Saturday’s crowd total of 31,200, according to numbers from ESPN. County planner Mike Kraemer said the high numbers did not violate the permit.”If Saturday was as much as you’re saying, then we need to take a look at that,” Kraemer said. “It’s a real strain on county and city services.”Dan Blankenship, CEO of the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, said this year went more smoothly than last year. Still, he said that compressing a larger crowd into fewer days made the weekend a challenge. “I heard the complaints about trash in town,” Klanderud said. “Some of the visitors could show a little more respect for where they are, but human behavior is a difficult thing to regulate.”Most of the 35 people the Aspen Police Department arrested were young. Twelve were age 18-20, and six were juveniles. Fifteen of those arrested live in the Roaring Fork Valley. Charges included underage drinking, minor in possession, DUI, disorderly conduct, urinating in public, criminal mischief, theft, domestic violence, drug and drug paraphernalia possession, weapons offense and outstanding warrants. Arrest numbers remained basically the same from last year’s X Games, which resulted in 36 arrests.”Is it an absolute limit in terms of numbers, or do we achieve a limit by how the event is organized?” Klanderud asked. “It’s international exposure, it’s live. When you think of everything that goes into putting that event on, it’s spectacular.” Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is email@example.com