Tight city regs hamstring ACRA

Scott Condon

The Aspen Chamber Resort Association claims that city regulations and community standards prevent it from reaping sponsorship dollars.

The chamber has lost about $100,000 in sponsorships from car manufacturers in recent years because it cannot showcase vehicles the way they want to, according to ACRA President Hana Pevny. Automakers want to grab the attention of people strolling the pedestrian malls, but the city won’t allow placement there. Once the car makers discover that, they split, Pevny said.

She also cited restrictions on signs and banners, as well as vending booths, as impediments to cashing in on outside sources.

Losing prospects for those reasons really hamstrings the chamber, Pevny said, because sponsorship opportunities are limited by the fact that most events in Aspen pull in small crowds. Sponsors are typically willing to part with cash in return for exposure of their products to large numbers of people.

The ACRA staff plans to contact other resorts to see if they face restrictions that hurt efforts to sign up sponsors. Pevny said the staff will also survey downtown core businesses to see how they feel about car displays on the pedestrian malls.

She said the ACRA will also continue to talk with the city government about some of the perceived hurdles to sponsorships.

The issue last came before the City Council in May, when Pevny asked council members to consider the display of vehicles on the malls. The council opposed the idea, as it had in previous discussions.

“I just don’t see our downtown for sale and I don’t see our downtown becoming an auto dealership,” said Councilwoman Rachel Richards at the time.

“Almost everything is for sale in Aspen, but not our mall space for cars. It’s a little over the top,” Councilman Tim Semrau agreed.

ACRA Board of Directors Chairman Rick Jones was quick to note at a chamber meeting this week that the organization’s relationship with the city “has never been better.” He said the city has demonstrated a willingness to ease regulations to allow events like outdoor concerts on city streets. The city is exploring other ways to return more vitality to the commercial core, as well.

Aspen Mayor Helen Klanderud suggested the ACRA might be having a problem with sponsors because it’s looking in the wrong places. She questioned whether the chamber was relying too much on corporations and outside interests, and not looking locally for backing.

The sponsorship debate is most relevant to Wintersköl, which Aspenites created 54 years ago. The event cost $40,000 to produce last winter ” $20,000 for the fireworks alone.

Pevny said she was still trying to determine if ACRA could put on the fireworks for the Jan. 13-15 event. “We just haven’t received our sponsorships,” she said.

ACRA board members made it clear they want to hold the fireworks. They advised the staff to knock on more doors locally to find the funds.

Scott Condon’s e-mail address is