Burton expands U.S. Open | VailDaily.com

Burton expands U.S. Open

Dominique Taylor/Special to the Daily

ABOUT THE EVENT

What: Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships.

Where: Vail, Golden Peak.

When: Feb. 29-March 5.

Biggest additions: One more night on the concert schedule and the return of the Junior Jam for competitors between the ages of 8 and 15.

More information: Visit www.BurtonUSOpen.com.

VAIL — Unless there’s a world championship ski event in the valley, the Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships is about the biggest on-snow show around. That show is going to get a big bigger.

A team from Burton Snowboards on Tuesday presented the Vail Town Council with an update on the 2016 event, scheduled for Feb. 29 through March 5. This will be the fourth running of the event in Vail, following 30 years in Burton’s home state of Vermont.

Burton representative Ian Warda told council members that the snowboard company believes it’s found “a great home in Vail” and intends to keep growing and refining its signature event.

For the 2016 show, Burton is adding a fourth concert night at Solaris Plaza. The acts won’t be named until January, but Warda said the concerts will feature nationally touring artists and groups.

The 2016 U.S. Open will also reintroduce the Junior Jam, which had been a staple of the event while it was in Vermont. Warda said that halfpipe event is open to riders between 8 and 15 years old and is a way to continue to bring new, young riders into the upper levels of the sport. The winners of the Junior Jam will earn a spot in the semifinal competitions for older riders.

Warda said the Junior Jam also helps attract an audience to Vail earlier in the week, part of a plan to make the U.S. Open a full-week event.

That event is aimed at the heart of a market town officials have wanted to attract — younger riders and their families.

“We want to help build (sales) tax revenue — we want to be the economic driver,” Warda said. “We have the right programming to reach that (younger) audience.”

Besides attracting a younger crowd, Warda said the U.S. Open also intends to expand its offerings for locals, growing the broomball tournament at the ice rink at Solaris and doing more with valley school kids.

So, who’s paying for all of this? The answer, as usual, is “sponsors.”

The town of Vail has been one of the primary sponsors and has put $400,000 per year into the event. That level of sponsorship has prompted a good bit of debate on the council, since the U.S. Open has tended to fall during a time when the town is already busy.

Mayor Dave Chapin told the Burton representatives they’re going to need to need to have accurate figures on attendance and other economic impacts when they return to ask for funding for the 2017 event.

And while the 2016 event posters features sponsor names including the town, Vail Resorts, Garmin and Pacifico beer, council member Jen Mason asked how the process of finding new sponsors — for 2016 and beyond — is coming along.

Burton representative Whitney Heingartner said that current sponsors are “excited” to return and the company is working on finding new ones.

Burton Marketing Director Marc Murphy said expanding the U.S. Open in coming years will be driven by new sponsors.

“They have a really great opportunity,” Murphy said.

And, Warda said, Burton already considers Vail the best place for its biggest event.

“This is a perfect home,” Warda said.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, smiller@vaildaily.com or @scottnmiller.