Will X Gamers still party in Aspen?
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN ” With the massive concerts in Wagner Park off the agenda for the X Games this week, Aspen watering holes are hoping everyone still wants to party on what has become the biggest bar weekend of the year.
“Every year we break all records, everybody does,” said Kevin Gadow, a manager at Bentley’s. “That’s the way you gotta plan for it. We’re absolutely stocking up for it. We don’t have anything else to go on.”
The three nights of concerts in past years, billed as Apres X and featuring acts such as rapper Common and Perry Ferrell’s Satellite Party, have been among the biggest nights for bars in Aspen.
“It’s a sad situation and people are disappointed,” said Darcy Peterson, a manager at Cooper Street Pier. “I don’t know if it will affect people going out.”
All of ESPN’s events this year take place at Buttermilk, including music. And this year, the musical acts are smaller names, such as singer/songwriter Marion Raven ” known for a duet with Meat Loaf that hit the 2006 top 10 charts in Europe.
Last year’s X Games generated an extra $3.37 million in Aspen retail sales, according to the city’s finance office. Now that all of ESPN’s events will be at Buttermilk, it is unclear whether Aspen will be affected economically.
“It may affect the timing of the business, so it won’t be lines out the door as soon as the concerts end,” said Jeff Hanle, spokesman for the Aspen Skiing Co. “Town is still packed, the valley is still sold out, so the peaks and valleys of business won’t be as high. That may be better for business.”
The Skico is featuring a free show by old-school rock trio Dinosaur Jr. on Thursday, but it overlaps with music at Buttermilk and nearly overlaps with the skiing superpipe finals. While it is Raven that will have to compete with Dinosaur Jr., the fact remains that the party at Buttermilk is bigger this year and the party in Aspen is smaller.
“All the rooms are booked up and the beds are booked up so it’ll probably be like it’s always been,” said Danny Chi, spokesman for the X Games. “It’s all going to speculation until we see the final numbers.”
Though some have bemoaned the loss of the big concerts, it may have been time for them to end, anyway. Even the bar managers said the concerts may have gotten a little out of control. It shortened the patience of locals and significantly strained city services, from trash collection to transit.
“It brings a lot of revenue to this town,” said Gadow. “But it poses the question: When does an event get too large? I believe that last year we started seeing cracks in the foundation.”
Aspen police responded to at least 521 calls for service over the four days of the 2007 X Games, and made 35 arrests. The event indirectly led to more than two dozen criminal cases, including the firing of a gun near officers making a traffic stop and the alleged assault of an Aspen police officer.
“It’s certainly going to mean a lot less work for us,” said Aspen police Sgt. Bill Linn. “It’s not going to be the kind of giant event that we had to really plan and overstaff for the last couple of years.”
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There is a lot of pent up energy among hikers and bikers to get into the high country, but snow fields, avalanche debris and high stream crossings are presenting challenges later than usual. Forest rangers with the Aspen-Sopris District provide trail condition reports that are updated each week so hikers and backpackers aren’t caught unaware.