Skico seeks boost in X Games bus funding |

Skico seeks boost in X Games bus funding

Janet Urquhart

Local governments are being asked to chip in $100,000 toward the cost of busing crowds associated with the Winter X Games at Buttermilk during the next two years.The Aspen Skiing Co. is asking upper-valley elected officials to approve a $50,000 allocation in 2006 and again in 2007 to help defray transportation costs associated with the event, which have risen 350 percent in the past two years, according to the company.The Elected Officials Transportation Committee, made up of elected officials from Aspen, Snowmass Village and Pitkin County, is scheduled to take up the request when the group meets Thursday in Snowmass. The EOTC controls the proceeds of a half-cent, countywide sales tax and use tax dedicated to transportation; it gave $20,000 to the Skico to help with X Games busing costs in 2004 and ’05 and had budgeted that amount in 2006 and 2007, as well.The Winter X Games are sponsored by ESPN, but the Skico’s annual expenses in supporting the event have nearly quadrupled since the first X Games at Buttermilk in 2002, according to a memo from Skico executive John Rigney outlining the company’s funding request. Rigney is the managing director of event marketing for the Skico.The X Games are an expensive event to host, yet it’s free to attendees and a boon to Aspen on many levels – including the huge boost in business for the town, Rigney notes in his memo. In the past, the Skico has contracted with the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority and brought in other bus companies to help transport crowds to and from the games. On average, 45 to 50 percent of X Games attendees come from within the Roaring Fork Valley and the transportation bill for the event has risen 350 percent, to more than $140,000, in the past two years, according to Rigney.The request for additional EOTC funding is probably warranted, Aspen Mayor Helen Klanderud said.”I’m quite sure that we make that money back,” she said, acknowledging the impact of the X Games on the local economy.The city of Aspen has allocated a separate $100,000 annually to help the Skico host the event through 2007.Winter X Games Ten are scheduled Jan. 28-31, 2006.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is