If we don’t shut up, they might not come
This is a very rough reversal of the quote from “Field of Dreams”: “If you build it, they will come!”
Not much similarity between baseball and the economics of a ski town, but maybe there is something we can learn from it anyway.
A number of locals, merchants, politicians and others have been bemoaning the composition of the current group of skiers who visit our mountain: They aren’t rich enough and they don’t spend enough money. They drive on our streets and dare to park on our Frontage Road – and they don’t spend enough money! They don’t look right or ski right, they drive our high roller customer away – and they don’t spend enough money! They ski our mountain, fill up our lift lines – and (you guessed it) they don’t spend enough money!
Interesting comments, especially the recurring one – they don’t spend enough money!
Believe me, they could spend a lot less. A lot less if they finally listen to what some of us have been saying and go somewhere else.
Remember, this is no longer an isolated valley high in the mountains of Colorado. It really is part of the rest of the world.
What is said here is often repeated outside, even in Denver, Colorado Springs and the rest of the Front Range. All the Front Range skier hears from Vail is “go away and don’t come back.” We don’t want you or the pittance you spend in our overpriced coffee shops, high-priced jewelry stores and exclusive restaurants. Stay off our mountain and quit crowding the few rich guests we have remaining. You won’t be “comfortable” here anyway. Why don’t you just stay where you belong? All we want is to have things they way they used to be, when you skied Breckenridge, or Copper Mountain and left our slopes to the elite from around the world.
People are odd creatures. They don’t listen often, and they rarely do what you want them to do. But, eventually, even the thick-headed ones will hear a message if you repeat it often enough. We could be just about to that point.
How long are we going to have to keep telling the current crop of skiers we wish they weren’t here before they listen? Will this season tell the tale, or will we have to keep sending our message for another year or so before they stop polluting our slopes with their foul personages and leave room for the world’s elite. The elite will certainly return once they discover we’ve cleaned out the town, blocked off the riffraff at the top of the pass, and policed the slopes just for their benefit. And if a frog had wings …
There is a very old phrase: “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it!”
We had better be careful or the Front Range just might decide to listen to us.
They just might quit skiing here, and go where they’ll be more “comfortable.” Winter Park, Copper Mountain, Breckenridge, Keystone, and A Basin are all closer than Vail and Beaver Creek.
Apparently, they are willing to be a lot friendlier, as well. If we don’t shut up, they might not come!
Dan Smith is an adjunct professor at Colorado Mountain College.