While the final days of the Sundance Film Festival are unfolding in Park City next week, in Aspen, Colo., the competitors in the Winter X Games will be soaring skyward in big air contests and taking on the superpipe.
And that could complicate the discussions between leaders in Park City and ESPN if the network decides Park City is one of the cities it wants to further consider as it weighs locations for future Winter X Games.
Sundance and the Winter X Games, as they are now scheduled, regularly overlap in their dates. It seems that it would be a near impossibility for Park City to host Sundance and the Winter X Games at the same time.
Hotels are already jammed during Sundance and the traffic is typically some of the worst of the year. Some restaurants and other businesses are closed for festival rentals. City Hall staffers, meanwhile, including police officers, bus drivers and building inspectors, work long hours during Sundance and would be needed for the Winter X Games as well. It is not clear whether City Hall would be willing to approve the necessary permits for a Winter X Games to be held alongside Sundance.
Sundance is scheduled Jan. 17-27 this year. The Winter X Games in Aspen are slated for Jan. 24-27. The dates also overlapped in 2012, 2011 and 2010.
ESPN is considering proposals from communities or other entities that are interested in hosting the Winter X Games in the future. The process includes the Winter X Games from 2015 until 2017.
Park City is one of the cities that submitted a letter of interest in hosting the Winter X Games those years. ESPN has not released the names of the other cities that expressed an interest.
An ESPN spokesman said the network could release a list of the cities that qualified to advance in the bidding process as early as later this week. If Park City advances, a more involved process would be expected in coming months. ESPN wants to name the host city for the 2015-2017 editions prior to February 2014.
The ESPN process is occurring as City Hall and Sundance organizers are readying for what is expected to be a high-stakes discussion about the festival's long-term future in Park City. There is a 10-year option attached to the current City Hall-Sundance deal that would become effective in 2018. Notice that the option will be exercised must be given by 2015.
A crucial part of the discussion will likely be centered on Sundance's dates. The tourism industry has an interest in talking about reworking the scheduling of Sundance to ensure the festival does not fall on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday that sometimes occurs during Sundance. If the festival was not occurring at the same time as the holiday, the thinking goes, Park City could enjoy a big ski weekend in addition to Sundance itself.
Sundance, though, sees its dates toward the beginning of the year as being advantageous since it is the first major festival on the independent-film circuit.