Winter X Games bid: big decision about big air
Ryan Summerlin February 1, 2013
Park City withdrew its bid for the Winter X Games on Tuesday, citing timing and financial requirements, an unexpected result in what had been seen as a solid effort to attract the extreme sports event to the local slopes.
The Park City Chamber/Bureau, which was leading the efforts, informed Winter X Games owner ESPN via e-mail on Tuesday afternoon. Park City in mid-January had been named one of at least four places in North America that had advanced in the bidding process. It was not known whether others advanced and declined to be identified.
Bill Malone, the president and CEO of the Chamber/Bureau, said the decision to end the bid was unanimous among the parties involved, including the mountain resorts, City Hall and the lodging industry.
"It wasn’t a good fit for Park City at this time," Bob Kollar, the director of special events for the Chamber/Bureau and one of the key figures in the bid efforts, said.
The people involved worried about the expense of putting on a Winter X Games, the timing of the setup for the event, the amount of complementary lodging required and the publicity value had the Winter X Games been held in April, as was proposed by Park City.
Kollar said it appeared organizing a Winter X Games in Park City would cost between $5 million and $10 million if the event were staged between the three area mountain resorts, as had been proposed by the Chamber/Bureau. Splitting the events between the three resorts would have multiplied the costs, according to the Chamber/Bureau.
Park City was interested in holding the Winter X Games in early April instead of the January period when they now occur. Putting the Winter X Games in April would have been seen as an end-of-season draw to the mountain resorts. Skier and snowboarder numbers typically drop sharply in April, and closing dates are usually scheduled that month.
The Chamber/Bureau said preparing for the event would have taken between four and six weeks. That could have posed problems for the mountain resorts, the lodging industry and other businesses during an important part of the ski season when people on spring break arrive in large numbers. The Chamber/Bureau said the preparations would have required some terrain closures. The potential closures were not detailed.
"We’re trying to host it in April. Most of the impacts are coming in March," Kollar said.
The schedule outlined in Park City’s bid had been of interest given the January dates that the Winter X Games are traditionally held. The dates overlap with the Sundance Film Festival, the largest event on Park City’s calendar, and the people involved early on were expected to craft a bid that did not interfere with the film festival. The Chamber/Bureau said January was not considered as a potential month in the bid for the Winter X Games since Sundance is held that month.
The Chamber/Bureau acknowledged that the publicity value of a Winter X Games in April was in question since the event would have been held so late in the ski season, when much of the country has moved onto spring and summer sports.
The Chamber/Bureau, meanwhile, said ESPN required a large bloc of complimentary hotel rooms for athletes, staffers and sponsors during the event and the preparations. The number reached into the thousands of room nights, an industry term that describes one room being stayed in for one night, the Chamber/Bureau said.
Park City spent a little more than two months considering the bid, starting in November as ESPN announced it was requesting proposals from places interested in hosting an X Games. There was a series of meetings between the parties, but limited information was made public about the deliberations until the decision was made to end the bid.
The Winter X Games would likely have been the biggest sporting event staged in Park City since the 2002 Winter Olympics, surpassing some of the world championship-level competitions that have been held locally in the 11 years since the Olympics. The Winter X Games are a four-day event involving action sports like superpipe and slopestyle, and there is a contest known as big air. The Winter X Games also includes snowmobile events.
The Winter X Games have traditionally been held in Aspen, Colo. ESPN in 2012 requested proposals from other places interested in the event. The others that had advanced in the bidding with Park City and were identified were Aspen and Snowmass, the Lake Tahoe region of California and Nevada, and Quebec City and Le Massif de Charlevoix in Canada.
ESPN is considering options for the location of the Winter X Games in 2015, 2016 and 2017. The network plans to name the host city for the 2015-2017 events in February 2014.