Council: Glenwood’s not ready for kayaking world championships
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The Glenwood Springs Whitewater Park has gained international notoriety as a paddling location, but the city’s not ready to host the 2013 World Freestyle Kayak Championships, the City Council agreed last week.
President of Glenwood Whitewater Events, Davis Farrar, and Bob Campbell, managing director for Whitewater Parks International, which is also based in Glenwood Springs, asked for the City Council’s support in applying for the pinnacle event of the kayaking world.
“This is a partnership,” Farrar said. “It’s a big project. We are excited about it and we think that we can pull it off, but we will need some excited partners.”
While council members were excited at the prospect of Glenwood hosting a world championship, they were also concerned that, without having ever held an event as large as the world championships, it’s hard to know if Glenwood is ready.
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“I really would like to host a world-class event in Glenwood,” said Councilwoman Shelley Kaup. “But I have to question if we are ready for that yet.”
Glenwood could expect more than 300 competitors from 40 participating countries, five days of competition, one week of training prior to the event, and a minimum of 3,000 spectators at the site each day, according to Campbell’s calculations. The park is located on the Colorado River, on Glenwood’s west side.
Campbell first approached City Council in December asking for support; the council wanted more detailed information about the event and the level of financial support the city would be expected to provide.
Campbell estimated the cost of hosting the world championships at about $430,000, of which the city would be responsible for $160,000 up front; the rest would possibly be paid by sponsors. However, the city could be on the hook for more if sponsors didn’t ante up. That did not set well with Councilman Matt Steckler.
“We have a guess at the cost, but the way it’s structured, all the risk falls on the city,” Steckler said. “I have a real hard time basically writing a blank check where we are assuming all the risk.”
Though the council did not support hosting the 2013 championships, members were enthused about the prospect of some day hosting the event in Glenwood.
Kaup suggested Glenwood create an event all its own and build on that before stepping into the championship arena. Such an event would allow local organizers to work out logistical problems before actually taking on an event that may prove to be too large.
Though they did not get the support they were seeking, Farrar and Campbell said it’s good to begin the conversation, as the international kayaking community wants an event at the Glenwood Springs Whitewater Park.
“I think the discussion is really valuable regardless, because its going to become a bigger issue as the facility becomes even more popular,” Campbell predicted.
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