Free concerts bother lodge, shop owners
Blues Traveler has given the blues to some Gore Creek Drive business owners.
A large crowd is expected for the Saturday show at Checkpoint Charlie, which is part of the two-weekend “Spring Back to Vail” series of sporting events and concerts. Promoters expect the events to bring between 10,000 and 20,000 people to Vail over the weekends. That influx, especially for the concerts, has Sitzmark Lodge owner Bob Fritch worried.
Fritch’s concern dates from a concert a few years ago by Big Head Todd and the Monsters at Checkpoint Charlie, at the west end of Gore Creek Drive. That event brought in thousands of people.
Some landscaping around the Sitzmark was trampled and a railing outside the hotel was knocked over. A bigger concern for Fritch, though, was the fact some concert-goers made it to the top floor of the Sitzmark to watch the show. That top floor is Fritch’s residence.
Fritch has over the years voiced his concerns and opposition to concerts and other large gatherings along the narrow corridor in front of his lodge. “I don’t like the Streetbeat concerts, either,” Fritch said. “We just go out to dinner those nights.”
Jennifer Bruno, co-owner of the Luca Bruno store on Gore Creek Drive, said she’s concerned about lost sales due to the Saturday show. “The Wednesday concerts are limited to two hours and those impact us big time,” Bruno said. “This will hit us on the last big day of our winter sales.”
The Brunos and Fritch aren’t alone in their concerns.
Steve Wright, operations commander for the Vail Police Department, said event promoter Highline Sports and Entertainment contacted business owners along the street seeking comments about the Spring Back to Vail events. “About half came back with at least some concerns,” Wright said.
While businesses worry about loss of sales during the events, Wright said security in the area will be stepped up. In addition to officers pulling regular duty, the Vail police will assign an additional five uniformed officers to the site, as well as 23 private security officers.
“I think we’re well-prepared,” Wright said. “We’ve invested a lot of time and effort into these two concerts.”
While concerned about her store’s sales, Bruno said she supports the idea of special events for Vail. “I’m in favor of things that promote Vail,” she said. “But a chance to offer more input would have been nice.”
While the town and its businesses actively promote events in town, the fact of the matter is no single event is going to please everyone in a diverse community.
“We do our utmost to protect all our businesses,” said Kaye Ferry, president of the Vail Chamber and Business Association. “A bike race isn’t good for the fur shops, and a Bravo! concert isn’t good for the T-shirt shops.”
Still, Ferry said, events such as Spring Back to Vail are important for the town and the promotion of the resort. “We’re here as a place people want to come to and have fun,” she said.
That said, everyone contacted for this story said concerts and Gore Creek Drive aren’t the best combination. “Checkpoint Charlie is not an ideal venue for concerts,” said Sybill Navas, coordinator for the Vail Commission on Special Events. But, she added, there isn’t one ideal spot anywhere in town.
Such a site could be built during extensive reconstruction planned for Lionshead and at Vail Village’s “Front Door,” the term being used to refer to the area around the base of the Vista Bahn chairlift.
“As we re-do Lionshead and the front door, we need to keep in mind the need for a site for events,” Navas said. For now, though, “We’re doing everything we can to ensure the promoters are doing everything possible to make this a good event.”
For Fritch, though, the bottom line is simple: “We can’t do business during these concerts,” he said. “People can’t get in and out.”