Conference center makes sense
Today for reasons that are unique to Vail, I urge support for the current proposed conference center, as I believe the benefits to our community outweigh the negatives. Other people are more qualified than I am to discuss financing, location, operational costs, benefits, liabilities and design, and it is important that each of these issues are “aired” and discussed fully. But an additional element should be introduced and considered by each of us. This is the unimaginable community benefits, past major projects, such as this, bestowed on Vail’s fabric. I am in the resort development business, and from my travels know this phenomenon is virtually non-existent in the universe of resort development and is what makes Vail so special. A brief look at the history of Vail’s “trademark projects” will illustrate this point. It all began with the mountain. When conceived by Earl Eaton and Pete Seibert, the original founders knew that they had a classic mountain. However, did they ever imagine being awarded two World Alpine Ski Championships, and creating the No. 1 venue in North America (and to many the world), hosting over a million and one-half skier visits each winter? When the Vail Clinic opened under the leadership of Gordon Brittan, could anyone have imagined it would become a world-class medical center serving patients from around the globe in a variety of specialties? When the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater was designed and built under the leadership of John Horan-Kates, it was believed the facility would host a variety of performances by local, regional and from time-to-time national artists. However, who among us imagined it would be the summer home of the New York Philharmonic and the International Evenings of Dance and similar world class entertainment? Equally amazing, could anyone have pictured the possibility of sold out Hot Summer Nights for our community?When the Donovan Pavilion and the Betty Ford Alpine Garden were completed, everyone knew they would be valued community assets. But did anyone imagine the multitude of creative and community events these venues provided? And finally, when the Dobson Ice Arena opened, would anyone have guessed that we would have a National Hockey League team, a Beach Boys concert and finally a fabulous performance by Izaak Pearlman?All of the above came from hard work, some controversy and solid vision. Each has contributed in an unforeseen manner to our community. I feel the same will be true of the conference center. Conventions, of course, will be important to the success of this community facility. However, in many ways the most important benefit to our community will come from these unforeseen, unimaginable events. We will reap benefits beyond those projected. What are they? I don’t know. It might be a Winter Olympics, the development of a world-class continuous learning center, a far greater focus of bringing our downvalley family back into Vail. What I do know is that the magic of Vail will touch this center as it has those that have preceded it. Vail has always had a commitment to excellence. Just like every business, a community must be willing to continue to take chances, innovate and try new things. A community that no longer is willing to take a chance will slowly but surely evolve into mediocrity. The Vail Renaissance initiative is a wonderful program that is doing wonders for our community. On the other hand, much of the focus so far has been on the development of large condominium projects. What we must now do is to build a facility that will bring people into Vail. I hope when considering the merits of this project you will look at the unimagined benefits we have received from these previous projects and that you will give strong consideration to the unimagined benefits this facility will bring to our wonderful community.Vote YES for the conference center.Harry Frampton of Vail is the head of East West Partners developers, as well as a partner in Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate and president of the Vail Valley Foundation.Vail, Colorado
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