Aspen plans concert during Pro Cycling Challenge
ASPEN – The Aspen City Council has informally agreed to spend as much as $15,000 for what organizers described as a “grassroots, old-school, Aspen-style concert” during the upcoming USA Pro Cycling Challenge.Nancy Lesley, the city’s director of special events, went to the council’s Tuesday work session to pitch the idea of two concerts with a combined budget of $25,000. One would be held the night of Aug. 10 – 12 days before the first of two Aspen race stages. The other would be the evening of Aug. 22, starting a few hours after cyclists descend into Aspen from Independence Pass during that first local stage.In a memorandum to council members, Lesley wrote that both concerts would be free and open to the public and held in a city park. Though the first concert would be held more than a week before the event rolls into Aspen, it would serve as a “kickoff” for the countdown to the two days of local festivities associated with the race on Aug. 22 and 23, a memo to the council said.”By hosting a community event/free concert on Friday, Aug. 10, staff is looking to create a buzz prior to the Pro Challenge and generate excitement for the bike race,” Lesley wrote. “Last year, after the stage finish, there weren’t any planned activities and it felt like a let-down as the vendors were packing up,” she continued. “Because we are a two-stage host (of a seven-stage race), staff feels by offering a free concert, it will keep people in town and the enthusiasm for the race alive.”Council members and Mayor Mick Ireland were open to the idea of one concert held in conjunction with the race but not two. Some council members also said that before making a final decision on money for a concert, they would like to see an updated schedule and the local budget for all of the two-day event’s activities as well as projections on sales to sponsors and VIP-grandstand viewers. Lesley said the sales push would be heating up over the next two weeks. She said hotel bookings are strong for the night of Aug. 22 but not comparable to the lodging occupancy rates the city enjoys during Aspen’s Food & Wine Classic weekend.”My support for a Friday night concert is not that strong,” Councilman Torre said. “You’re telling me that ticket (and hotel) sales are going well. You’ve got a good turnout. Do we really need a 12-day-prior kickoff concert? I’m not sure about that.”Torre said he might support providing money for a concert on the first event day, Aug. 22, which falls on a Wednesday. He said holding a concert on the night of the second event day might make more sense because visitors might be inclined to stay in town for a while instead of leaving once the riders head out of Aspen that morning.The USA Pro Cycling Challenge debuted last year, and Aspen hosted the finish of the second of six stages, not counting time trials. This year it returns to the city with both a finish and a start on Main Street. The race will feature the 131-mile Queen Stage between Gunnison and Aspen in Stage 3 on Aug. 22. After descending the pass and ending in Aspen on the afternoon of Aug. 22, riders will start the next day with a climb up Independence Pass’ west side on a 97-mile route that ends with another difficult ascent into Beaver Creek.Ireland said he would prefer a single concert on Aug. 22.”I think we should capitalize on our advantage” of being the only race location to host both a stage start and a finish, Ireland said. “I like the idea of not having an elaborate concert.”Joe Lang, of Tumbleweed Productions, added that the process of trying to book the right band for the show would begin in July.”We have to make sure we get someone of significance in terms of the booking. Otherwise there’s just a mad scramble as we get too close to the event,” he said.Lang added that the “old-school” approach means that the concert will be a simple affair without massive production values.asalvail@aspentimes
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