Eagle County: Airport wrestles with new name | VailDaily.com

Eagle County: Airport wrestles with new name

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
Preston Utley/Vail DailyResidents, the resort companies and Eagle County leaders are looking for the best name for the Gypsum airport.

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” After a month of thought, a marketing study and dozens of public comments later, Eagle County still has not decided what it should call its local airport.

The suggestion to change the name of Eagle County Regional Airport came from Genesis, Inc., a firm hired by the county and Vail Resorts to market the airport to its full potential.

Marketing consultants first suggested “Colorado International Airport,” but commissioners, businesses and residents rejected the name.

County commissioners were split between not changing the name at all and some variation of “Vail Airport.” They decided to get more public comment and vote on the matter in the next two weeks.

Several names were considered, including Vail Airport, Vail International Airport and Vail-Eagle County Airport.

Representatives from Vail Resorts and Beaver Creek said they wanted something with “Vail” in the name.

“The world understands ‘Vail.’ There’s no other moniker. It is by far the most recognizable name for this area,” Beaver Creek Resort Executive Director Tony O’Rourke said.

Commissioner Peter Runyon said he would rather not change the name, but if they did, he would be in favor of “Vail-Eagle County Airport.”

“The reality is that the airport was a dirt strip for years before Vail came in,” he said.

Robert Milfeld of RJ Limos of Vail said Vail Airport would have worldwide name recognition and “rolls off the tongue.” However, the “international” part is misleading, he said.

“It’s hard to even get a flight in from New York in the summer. Just keep it simple,” he said.

Runyon suggested the resorts benefiting from the ‘Vail’ connection should help with the costs of a new name, such as replacing signs. However, resort representatives said “No.”

Vail Resorts Airline Marketing Manager Gabe Shalley said Vail Resorts already spends money to heavily market the airport.

“We have paid by contributing to the success of this airport,” she said.

Giving the airport a clear, simple name and identity will help the county and resorts market the destination to travelers, said Genesis consultant Graham Button.

Travelers, local residents, travel agents and even Vail Resorts marketing have a slew of different names for the airport, he said.

“There is confusion out there. The traveling public has a bunch of nicknames for it. While there’s an official name, no one uses it,” Button said.

Eagle County Regional Airport is currently the third busiest airport in the state. The county would like the airport to be the top destination for travelers coming to the mountains, said County Manager Bruce Baumgartner.

“If people want to go to a city, they’ll go to Denver International Airport. But if they’re going anywhere in the mountains, we want them to come here, whatever the name is,” he said.

Some, such as airport employee Kathy Lawn, want to keep “Eagle County” in the name.

“I think Vail needs to be in it, but so does Eagle County. We are Eagle County after all, and I’m very proud of that,” she said.

Lee Weatherbee, air traffic controller at the airport, agreed.

“If Vail isn’t in the name, we should keep it Eagle County Airport,” he said.

County Commissioner Sara Fisher said she did not think a new name was necessary, especially because local residents have an emotional tie to the name “Eagle County.”

“Asking people to lose an identity is a difficult thing. This deserves some time and opportunity to get more public comment,” she said.

Want to weigh in on a new name for the local airport? Contact the Eagle County Commissioners http://www.eaglecounty.us; or call them at 328-8604; or send a letter to P.O. Box 850, Eagle, Colo. 81631.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.

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