Funding may favor ‘Vail first’ |

Funding may favor ‘Vail first’

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
Kristin Anderson/Vail Daily file photo

VAIL, Colorado – “Vail first” – that’s the idea by which the town of Vail, Colorado might start judging special events.

Town officials are rethinking how to sponsor events based on how much bang for the buck the event brings to the town – specifically, officials are concerned about keeping events physically within Vail, and keeping the Vail name a major part of the event.

The discussion was spurred on by a recent proposal by the Vail Film Festival to expand the event by bringing in Beaver Creek as a co-sponsor – Beaver Creek would pitch in half the money and host half the films as an equal partner. Organizers said the festival must move outside of Vail in order to grow as an event. However, the idea has some in Vail worried about events accepting town funds, then “leaving town.”

The Commission of Special Events, a town board that oversees and allocates funding for events, discussed at a meeting Friday under what circumstances expansion of events outside of the town or partnerships outside of Vail would be best for the community.

“The feeling I got from talking to people was that anything the CSE does and that Vail funds should primarily be held in Vail and benefit Vail,” said Kerry Donovan, a commission member. “There was a bit of the idea of ‘Vail first.'”

Officials are still talking about how they might accomplish that, but ideas included requiring that sponsored events be headquartered in Vail, and that they can only spill beyond the town if keeping the event in town is impossible.

The town is also thinking about including a no-compete clause in event contracts, and maybe even prohibiting sponsored events from going within a 100-mile radius for a certain amount of time.

Others pointed out that many “Vail events” aren’t held solely in Vail, such as the Vail Lacrosse Shootout, the alpine ski championships or the Vail Dance Festival.

In some cases, like the lacrosse tournament, which also uses fields in Avon and Edwards, Vail does not have enough facilities to keep the whole event within the town, said Sybill Navas, the town’s special events coordinator.

Also, sometimes it is easier to attract sponsors when the event has a wider audience, she said.

“That said, there has to be some accountability,” Navas said. “We can’t build an event and then have them move on and take advantage of that.”

Keeping the “Vail” a main part of the event’s title is also a big deal – even a 50/50 partnership could take away from Vail’s brand name recognition, the commission said.

“The difference is that in these other events, we’ve retained ownership of the event – for example, it’s still the Vail Dance Festival,” said commission member Meggan Kirkham. “This is different because I feel we’re losing some of the ownership.”

Tony O’Rourke, executive director of Beaver Creek Resort Company, said the resort will hold off on any decisions about a sponsorship until Vail decides on its position.

“Vail is an iconic resort,” he said. “I don’t think they have to worry about brand identification if events are literally outside of Vail.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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