BOCC: Midnight too late for X Games concert
Editor’s note: Due to an error, this story covering the Tuesday county commissioners meeting failed to appear in Wednesday’s print edition.
If ESPN has its way, next year’s Winter X Games at Buttermilk Mountain will feature more people at later concerts and a band playing Thursday instead of Sunday.
That was the gist of the sports network’s new live-music proposals presented to Pitkin County commissioners Tuesday. The informal meeting was called to solicit elected officials’ opinions before ESPN applies for formal permits early next year.
And, for the most part, commissioners seemed amenable to most of the proposals, with one notable exception: ESPN wants the new Thursday concert to run from 9 p.m. to midnight — which is too late for all five board members.
“I looked at this, and midnight gave me some heartburn,” Commissioner Rachel Richards said, adding that many neighbors will have work or school the Friday after the proposed midnight concert. “I think midnight is too much to ask.”
Commissioner Patti Clapper agreed, saying she can hear the X Games at her home near Smuggler Mountain, and a midnight concert would place too great an impact on neighbors.
The 2015 X Games featured five concerts, only one of which went past 7 p.m. — the Saturday show ended at 11 p.m. — according to a memo by Pitkin County Planner Mike Kraemer. For 2016, ESPN is proposing four concerts: Thursday from 9 p.m. to midnight, Friday from 9:30 to 11 p.m. and two shows Saturday — the first from 4:30 to 6 p.m. and the second from 9:30 to 11 p.m., the memo states.
The 2016 Winter X Games are scheduled to take place Jan. 28 to 30.
For 2016, ESPN also wants to increase the number of concertgoers from 6,000 to 7,000, said Vanessa Anthes, the network’s associate director for event management. The network wants to sell alcohol at the concerts starting an hour before showtime and ending half an hour before the concerts end.
And, finally, ESPN would need a noise-ordinance variance because it says the concerts would exceed the county’s existing noise ordinance by 30 decibels at the concert perimeter.
Commission Chairman Steve Child wondered about lowering decibel levels as a way to mitigate impacts on neighbors. However, Commissioner Michael Owsley seemed to shoot down that idea.
“I find that totally impractical,” Owsley said of Child’s suggestion. “Asking a rock concert to be quieter — I don’t see how that works. I think we limit the time and hope for the best.”
Owsley said that if airplanes can’t fly into the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport past 11 p.m., rock concerts should have to observe the same limitation.
“They are essentially cheek and jowl,” he said.
Commissioner George Newman also said he supported ending the concert at 11 p.m.
Anthes said ESPN proposed the later Thursday concert time to try and have a “doubleheader” that night. Also, she said the network wanted to avoid a possibly unsafe situation where people rush to the concert from an event that just ended.
Brad Gibson, an investigator with the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, said there was no spike in alcohol-related incidents at the 2015 X Games. He also said having more people at the concert won’t affect the number of deputies assigned to it because ESPN handles security.
Parker Lathrop, deputy chief of the Aspen Fire Department, told commissioners that the concert venue can handle more than 7,000 people and the department didn’t have a problem with the 1,000-person increase.
Clapper called the Winter X Games “a great event” and said she supported both changing the concert from Sunday to Thursday and increasing the number of concertgoers.
Anthes said she would take into account the commissioners’ sentiments in putting together the permit proposals.
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