Aspen Skiing Co. seeks more X Games bus funding |

Aspen Skiing Co. seeks more X Games bus funding

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – Aspen Skiing Co. will ask elected officials from Aspen, Snowmass Village and Pitkin County to double the three governments’ contribution to transportation costs associated with staging ESPN’s Winter X Games.

Officials from the three governments collectively form the Elected Officials Transportation Committee, and jointly control the proceeds of sales tax proceeds devoted to transportation. The committee meets at 4 p.m. Thursday at Aspen City Hall.

The committee has provided $50,000 annually to assist in transporting spectators to and from the games at Buttermilk for the past nine years. The Skico, which is in negotiations with ESPN to host the games at Buttermilk for two more years, is seeking a commitment for $100,000 in each of the next two years to help pay for the buses.

The X Games have been at Buttermilk for 11 straight years and, in the nine years the transportation committee has provided financial support, attendance has grown from roughly 48,000 people to 108,000 at the most recent games, held in January. The cost of transit over that period has more than quadrupled, according to John Rigney, Skico vice president of sales and events, in a memo to the transportation committee. Nearly 40 percent of the people who get on a bus to or from Buttermilk during the X Games are Roaring Fork Valley residents, he noted.

Earlier this month, Rigney secured a $275,000 contribution from the city of Aspen and Aspen Chamber Resort Association in each of the next two years to help bolster the package Skico can offer to ESPN. The city’s commitment is an increase of $25,000 annually from what it was already contributing; $150,000 annually from the Aspen Chamber Resort Association is a new contribution.

Rigney indicated he also would approach other communities in the valley for contributions.

The Skico’s request to the transportation committee was initially slated for public comment at the beginning of the meeting, but county commissioners on Tuesday urged its placement on the committee’s regular agenda, as the allocation will have to be considered in conjunction with other monetary decisions.

“I don’t think that in public comment, we would be prepared to give them $50,000 anyway,” said Commissioner Michael Owsley.

Also on the committee’s plate is whether to continue allocating money to keep Roaring Fork Transportation Authority service between Aspen and Snowmass Village free to riders and a decision on the proposed placement of a Highway 82 underpass in the vicinity of the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport and Aspen Business Center. Setting aside capital funds to contribute to the underpass and other projects is also scheduled for discussion.

The underpass would cost an estimated $2.5 million to $3 million, but state funds could cover at least $2 million of the cost.

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