Birds of Prey brings crowds and an estimated $4 million to town | VailDaily.com

Birds of Prey brings crowds and an estimated $4 million to town

Birds of Prey by the numbers

On-site reach: 25,000 people over three days

Average household income of those people: $175,000

Domestic TV: 1.68 million viewers

International TV: 225 million viewers

PR impressions: 3 million-plus

Source: Vail Valley Foundation

BEAVER CREEK — Birds of Prey will deliver millions of dollars and television viewers to the local resort community.

This week’s event means a $4 million windfall just for Beaver Creek Resort, and 225 million international television viewers. That TV audience will see that Beaver Creek and the Vail Valley have snow — lots and lots of snow, something they will not see in unseasonably warm Europe.

“When you have an early season event and you have the good snow conditions we’re enjoying, it creates an even bigger presence,” said Ceil Folz, president of the Vail Valley Foundation and the 2015 World Championships Organizing Committee.

Birds of Prey’s economic benefit is not limited to Beaver Creek, of course. It stretches the length of the valley from Red Cliff to Gypsum.

More than money

The Vail Valley Foundation produces events such as the Birds of Prey World Cup, the GoPro Mountain Games, the Vail International Dance Festival and the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. Sometimes they do a balancing act between what pays now and what pays later. Ideally, an event pays both ways.

“You can’t just look at revenue and expense,” Folz said.

There are both short-term and long-term benefits for events such as Birds of Prey and the World Championships as local cash registers ring.

“How many people come here and how much money is spent is the short-term benefit, and we’re thankful for that — but the greater benefit is the positive exposure,” Folz said.

How it’s calculated

Jason Roberts helps run Intercept Insight, a local marketing research company. This is the company’s fifth year measuring Birds of Prey’s economic impact.

That $4 million windfall is just for Beaver Creek, Roberts said, not the whole valley. His company talks to hundreds of people and asks what they’re spending on lodging, dining, retail and skiing. Roberts and his crew calculate the attendance and do the math.

It does not measure things like the positive exposure that comes with the world seeing snow on our slopes when so many areas have none.

Snowfall in our area of the Rockies is about average, says the National Weather Service, but it’s a winter wonderland compared to Europe. Folz can sympathize.

“Snow problems anywhere are not good for any of us in snow sports,” Folz said.

Birds of Prey has a following of people who come to Beaver Creek for the races. As they do, they become more comfortable with the area and start looking for the valley’s most interesting and unique places and things, Folz said.

That includes places like Red Cliff, where Mallory Parks co-owns Mango’s and manages the Green Bridge Inn.

“Our inquiries are up,” Parks said. “They’re now finding Red Cliff.”

Price point helps. A room that may cost $500 a night in Vail is much less in Red Cliff, Mallory said, and it’s about eight miles away.

Up and down the valley

Brad Ghent is something of a ski racing legend. These days he runs Dollar/Thrifty rental car at the Eagle County Regional Airport and coordinates the Birds of Prey race crew volunteers.

“We see some impact with the rental cars at the airport. It’s a bump in business, especially this time of year,” Ghent said. “For us to be able to host this is a huge benefit.”

The Talon race crew is made up of 300 hearty souls who are out on the mountain helping prepare the course. Last week Vail Resorts had a crew on the mountain along with the volunteers. They spray the course with water, making it grippy and dense, but not icy, Ghent said.

“They’re true volunteers,” Ghent said. “The people on our crew come back every year.”

They don’t get paid, and they don’t get housing, Ghent said. They spent Thanksgiving Day hanging nets and preparing the race surface with millions of gallons of water. The first race net is a mile long.

“They get a sandwich. It’s sweat equity. They just get out there and work,” Ghent said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.