X Games boost Snowmass business | AspenTimes.com

X Games boost Snowmass business

Jill Beathard
Snowmass Sun
A crowd watches the 2005 Winter X Games from the base of Buttermilk. In recent years, there were more than 100,000 spectators over the course of the event. Many of those are visitors or part-time residents and stay in Snowmass Village while they're here.
Aspen Times file |

It’s Winter X Games weekend, and as any local will tell you, it’s one of the busiest of the year.

While none of the competitions or events is in the village — this year, the competitions and concerts are all at Buttermilk — many athletes and visitors stay in Snowmass Village hotels and residences. As of last week, lodges in the village still had some openings, but Bill Tomcich, president of reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass, expected them to fill by this weekend.

With its millions of television viewers and total attendance of more than 100,000 over the course of the event, X Games provides a giant marketing boon for Aspen and Snowmass. But it’s also unique in the type of marketing it does in that it reaches a younger demographic that doesn’t normally visit here, said Rose Abello, director of Snowmass Tourism.

“The future of winter sports is in the youth,” Abello said. “I can’t imagine something else we could do that would reach that wide an audience.”

“Even if they don’t ski, they come up and they know where Aspen/Snowmass is. It’s definitely a party crowd. We seem to get a lot of them.”
Reed Lewis
Business owner

People visiting for the event, especially those staying in the village, probably ski Snowmass since it has parks and other terrain that might appeal to them and much of Buttermilk is closed off for the event, Abello said. The increase in visitors also brings more traffic to restaurants and businesses.

David Dugan, of Base Camp Bar and Grill and Slice, said the two Base Village restaurants are busy all week. In addition to offering specials over the weekend, some of the X Games snowmobiling athletes set up shop at Base Camp, parking one of their sleds in front of the restaurant and signing autographs.

The marketing benefit of X Games is becoming twofold, said Reed Lewis, who owns three businesses on the Snowmass Village Mall. As always, it appeals to a young crowd, which is helpful because Aspen and Snowmass have more of a reputation among older guests, Lewis said.

“Even if they don’t ski, they come up and they know where Aspen/Snowmass is,” Lewis said. “It’s definitely a party crowd. We seem to get a lot of them.”

However, in the past few years as the event has grown into a bigger production, complete with concerts and entertainment, Lewis said he’s noticed more second-home owners coming up this time of year to enjoy the festivities.

“It’s fantastic,” Lewis said. “It’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement.”

The Snowmass Village Police Department sees a small uptick in the number of calls over X Games weekend, when there’s a big influx in the number of guests and everyone is in “party mode,” said Chief Brian Olson. Because the event is at Buttermilk and revelers usually go to Aspen after the event, those calls pick up after midnight as guests return to Snowmass for the night, he said.

The biggest impact the police witness, however, is to parking in the village. Residents and visitors use free lots to leave their cars for the day while they bus to Buttermilk, clogging the already limited parking, he said. But he sees that as part of Snowmass’ role in the event.

“Parking will certainly be a premium over the weekend in Snowmass,” he said. “If you’re skiing, come early.”

Lewis, who meets a lot of the X Games visitors in his liquor store, said he finds them respectful in general.

“It’s just a lot of people, and every time you have a lot of people,” there are issues, he said. “Overall, I think it’s positive.”