X Games transit subsidy will likely earn approval
The organizers of the 2007 Winter X Games did not get the $50,000 transportation subsidy they hoped for at a meeting of local elected officials Thursday.But they got the next best thing – a tentative promise of the grant if they meet a few conditions first. And one of the organizers gave assurances that the delay in commitment of the funding would not endanger the production of the X Games.The meeting, at the Snowmass Village offices, brought together the X Games organizers with members of the Elected Officials Transportation Committee, consisting of representatives from Snowmass, the city of Aspen and Pitkin County.John Rigney, managing director of event marketing for the Aspen Skiing Co., had submitted a memo to the EOTC outlining what he viewed as the successes and problems that came up during the 2006 X Games, which drew a reported record crowd of more than 69,000 and reached an estimated 38.6 million viewers through televised coverage.He noted that the Games received $50,000 from the EOTC in 2006 to provide mass transit to the attendees and thereby reduce the number of automobiles traveling around the valley, with a pledge that similar support would be available in future years, depending on how smoothly the event went. He also said the money is critical to the event’s operations.”Our consensus,” he said, including the EOTC members in his summary, “is that at Buttermilk (the main venue) things went about as well as they could have.”But he and members of the committee noted there were some things that did not go so well, including security at the concerts in Aspen during the weekend, and “incidents” on the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s buses that ferried the thousands of attendees around the valley that weekend.Those incidents, according to Rigney and members of the committee, included conflicts between concertgoers and the drivers and other bus passengers.He said this year’s event will feature some changes in how security and other measures are handled, and reported that he is working with RFTA to make sure there are enough buses to ensure that such conflicts do not arise again.But he was unable to provide exact details about certain aspects of the planning for the X Games, scheduled for Jan. 25-28, and it was the lack of details that resulted in the committee putting a hold on the funding.”If we’re going to be hosting 60,000 people,” said Aspen City Council member Rachel Richards, the planning has to be complete, and “safety … has to be our No. 1 priority.”Pitkin County Commissioner Mick Ireland concluded that he could not vote for the transportation subsidy without more details about that planning effort.”We have time to get the details and process this in an orderly fashion,” he told Rigney. “When you want public money, you ought to have your stuff together.”Enough of the EOTC members agreed with him that the body voted against approving the subsidy at the meeting. A successful motion by Commissioner Dorothea Farris held out the likelihood of approval as soon as the committee’s concerns are addressed.Rigney is to bring more details about the transportation planning for the games to the next meeting, on Nov. 16, or earlier if the EOTC members decide to call a special meeting on the topic.
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