Aspen council OKs Wagner Park concerts for 2014 X Games | AspenTimes.com

Aspen council OKs Wagner Park concerts for 2014 X Games

Karl Herchenroeder
The Aspen Times

The Aspen City Council on Tuesday approved ESPN's request to put on two concerts in Wagner Park during Winter X Games weekend, and tickets could go on sale as early as Monday.

Although ESPN has locked up artists for the shows, band names were not announced immediately. Each day will feature an opening act and headliner, with a rock/pop act for Jan. 25 and an electronic dance music act for Jan. 26.

The last X Games concerts in Aspen took place in 2006, when an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 concertgoers flooded Wagner Park for free shows. That year, many attendees were unwilling to wait in line to have their bags checked, so they organized groups and overran fences and security.

"We know that it was really crazy last time," Jennifer Rieber, ESPN's lead coordinator for the concerts, said at Tuesday's work session. "Everybody sort of has that taste in their mouth, and we're just really trying to have safe and contained concerts."

This year will be a ticketed event, with a $30 charge for general admission. ESPN expects 6,400 people for each 4 to 6:30 p.m. show. According to numbers given to the council, about 2,500 people attend each day of the Food & Wine Classic in Wagner Park.

By putting on the concerts, Rieber said ESPN is looking to further tap into the subculture of extreme sports. She's hopeful that not too many non-ticket holders will show up.

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"Depending on the weather, I don't know how fun it's going to be to sit outside of the fence and listen for two hours," Rieber said, adding that 50 security guards have been contracted for shows, some of whom will patrol the exterior.

Between setup and dismantling, Wagner Park would house concert equipment from Jan. 20 to 28. ESPN has requested that Durant Avenue be closed for four days and that Monarch Street between Durant and Hyman Avenue be closed for eight days. But Aspen's Special Events Committee reviewed the application and determined that those lengths are too long. Instead, it recommended that Durant be closed from 2:30 to 8 p.m. on Jan. 25 and 26. Additionally, ESPN has said it will look into keeping Monarch open for parking and traffic on non-concert days.

Rieber said she has reached out to a handful of local businesses — including the Hyatt Grand Aspen, the St. Regis Aspen Resort, the Dancing Bear, McDonald's and Takah Sushi — and has received positive feedback. A spokesman for ESPN, Danny Chi, said they will be in further communication with businesses about logistics.

Council member Ann Mullins stressed the importance of outreach, especially in light of recent noise complaints. To that, Mayor Steve Skadron suggested that ESPN "crank up" the music.

Five or six additional buses will be reallocated for the events to deliver patrons from Buttermilk to Rubey Park, and Chi said ESPN is working with the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority and other companies to finalize an overall transportation plan. Chi said ESPN also is working with Aspen on fees associated with staging the concerts and that any agreement would carry insurance against potential damages to the park.

In October, ESPN announced that it is discontinuing all international versions of its X Games competitions, with a renewed focus on national events. The next Summer X Games will take place in Austin, Texas, while the site of Winter X Games 2015 is up in the air. With its X Games agreement expiring in 2014, Aspen is up against Park City, Utah; Quebec City; and a collaboration of California resorts around Lake Tahoe in a bidding war for future events.