VAIL — Preliminary reports show that the GoPro Mountain Games, held in Vail from June 5 to 8, drew record crowds — but hotel staff the villages could have told you that.
The weekend was a busy one for lodges, and for the first time, Lionshead Village also saw significant traffic for an event that is usually focused in Vail Village. The Lodge at Lionshead was sold out of the weekend because of the GoPro Mountain Games, said marketing manager Leslie Robertson.
“We were very excited to see that, and it was definitely busy on Saturday for the Badass Dash,” said Robertson, referring to the mud/obstacle run that was staged for the first time in Lionshead Village. “We had people staying who were spectators, some vendors who were here manning tents, quite a few climbing athletes and some kayakers. It was fun to have a little bit of everything.”
The traffic was welcome for a time of year that has traditionally been slow for tourism business. Rob LeVine, of the Antlers at Vail, said he feels the crowds from the GoPro Mountain Games have grown each year.
“It’s a time we haven’t traditionally been busy, but we were just packed,” he said. “In the past six to eight years that the Games have been going on, it’s just gotten better and better.”
According to early counts, the Games drew up to 58,000 spectators, up from 53,579 in 2013. The two Vail parking structures were both filled by 10:10 a.m. on Saturday, and parking overflowed onto the sides of the Frontage roads.
There were 535 cars counted parked on the Frontage Road — as many as any major ski weekend — and that may be a lower estimate judging by how far down the cars were stretched, said Vail Parking Supervisor Kevin Berga.
Surprisingly, economic impact stayed about the same or less than this past year — estimates are that the Games generated about $4 million. This past year, final reports indicated $4.7 million was made.
Vail Valley Foundation Senior Marketing Manager Paul Abling said the foundation can’t speculate on the economic impact until final numbers come in.
Still, the games had a larger vendors village than ever before, and a number of new sponsors including Vasque footwear, Native and Costa eyewear, LifeProof, Redington and KIND. GoPro is contracted to sponsor the Games for at least another year.
“Hopefully it will be many years to come,” said Kate Peters, of the Vail Valley Foundation. “Our numbers are definitely up there, and the buzz around the event has only been growing.”
Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.