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X Games good for business

Joel Stonington
Thousands mill around downtown after the Damian Marley concert on Jan. 28 at Wagner Park. (Mark Fox/The Aspen Times)
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Many businesses in Aspen are saying “Ahhhh,” after the X Games.While total attendance was nearly exactly what it was last year, 69,650, hotel rooms were booked months in advance, bars had lines out the door Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and restaurants were packed. The biggest winter weekend has come and gone. Retailers didn’t necessarily see the same bonanza as the hotels and bars; it depended somewhat on whether the store catered to the youth market.”We’re athletic and sporty, and the kids can afford us,” said Peggy McCafferty, the manager of Roots. “Plus, we’re the official outfitters to the U.S. Olympic team. We sold a lot of berets and hats, track jackets that we’ll see in Torino next week.”

Places like Pierre Famille, however, didn’t see much of a change. Even the Ute Mountaineer didn’t have more sales.”That kind of crowd frequents the bars and restaurants, but the retail shops don’t see much of it,” said Mike Torres, who works in sales at the Ute. “It was actually slow, if anything. And we’re right here where the concerts were. It was dead.”Hotels were a different story. Hotel Durant only had three or four rooms for regular guests (booked months in advance), with the rest reserved for ESPN tech support, electrical guys, and cameramen. The Mountain House Lodge had two teams that reserved many of the rooms over a year in advance. The same teams have already reserved the rooms for next year’s X Games. Hotel Aspen sold out more than a month before the X Games but has opened up a bit in the past few days. Hotel Aspen’s sales manager, Kristin Atkinson, said après-ski wasn’t very crowded there.

“Everyone was out and about most of the time,” she said. And that made the bars very, very crowded. A few places ran out of something, but for the most part, restaurants and bars were stocked floor to ceiling and made it through without serious shortages. “I ran out of vodka,” said Keith Hatanaka, general manager of Bentley’s. “Of all things, to run out of vodka.”He said that what the crowd wants is different every year. One year Jägermeister was all the rage, and last year it was Bud Light.

“It was better than last year’s,” said “Big Al” Heide, bar manager at the Red Onion. “The crowds were huge, but we didn’t run out of anything. Saturday was great. At about 3 in the afternoon we got hit and stayed busy most of the night. We even got busy after the wallride. It was definitely packed in here.”The Hickory House did not quite sell the 2,000 pounds of meat it sold last year, but the general manager, Brian Jack, said it nearly equaled that amount. “We did not run out of anything,” he said. “It all went smoothly. It was definitely a good weekend, and we can’t wait for next year.”Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is jstonington@aspentimes.com


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