City Council says it’s willing to contribute to World Cup Finals
Members of the Aspen City Council said Tuesday they are willing to make significant in-kind and cash donations toward hosting the World Cup Finals in March.
“It’s show-up time for us,” Councilman Art Daily said. “This is really an exceptional opportunity.
“It’s part of what Aspen is all about.”
The International Ski Federation officially awarded Aspen the men’s and women’s World Cup Finals last month. The events will take place March 15 to 19, though training races will occur during the two days prior. The venue will be Aspen Mountain.
The event will mark the first time the finals have occurred outside Europe since 1997. Aspen was the first to host the World Championships outside Europe in 1950.
Aspen Skiing Co. wants the city to provide between $107,500 and $166,500 worth of in-kind contributions, which include overtime for parks employees and police officers, lost parking revenue and waiving the $55,000 to $82,500 fee for using Wagner Park for 11 days.
In addition, Skico wants the city to contribute $150,000 in cash for the World Cup Finals.
“The total dollar amount is unprecedented in the time I’ve been here,” said Aspen City Manager Steve Barwick.
City Council members discussed the proposal during a work session Tuesday and indicated a willingness to waive the Wagner Park fee with the understanding that Skico will help fix any damage to the park. Wagner Park will serve as a home base for off-mountain activities during the event. “I’m OK waiving the park fee for this,” Councilman Adam Frisch said.
Parks Director Jeff Woods also said he “strongly supported” waiving the fee because the Wagner Park events will be open to the public.
“Anybody in the community can go there,” Woods said. “This is not VIP.”
Another big issue will be parking.
Mitch Osur, the city’s parking director, said that in order for teams and spectators to park close to Lift 1A, residents of that area could be directed to park in the city’s parking garage across from Rio Grande Park.
However, that idea didn’t sit well with council members.
Frisch, Ann Mullins and Bert Myrin all expressed concerns about the proposal.
“That seems uncomfortable to me,” Myrin said.
As for the cash contribution, Frisch said he was happy to make a financial contribution, but that the exact number needed further discussion. Barwick said that money could only come from the city’s general fund or the destination marketing fund.
As for the event itself, get ready for a much bigger production than the November women’s races that have been held at Aspen Mountain in recent years, said Deric Gunshor, Skico’s director of event development.
The March event will cover seven days as opposed to three days for the November event, attract 4,500 spectators rather than 1,500, utilize 700 volunteers rather than 400, garner 11 hours of television coverage as opposed to 2½, and increase the town’s occupancy rate from about 40 percent in November to about 90 percent in March, Gunshor said.
John Rigney, Skico’s vice president of sales and events, said Aspen will receive significant exposure from the event.
“It will be a great opportunity to share our story … with a global audience,” he said.
The City Council will hold another meeting to hammer out further details of the event.
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