Is Vail’s new economic engine at the Cascade? |

Is Vail’s new economic engine at the Cascade?

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
Vail Daily file photo

VAIL – A proposal circulating through the town of Vail to build a second floor to the Dobson Ice Arena face at least one alternative idea – take over the old Colorado Mountain College space at the Vail Cascade Resort.

Rayla Kundolf, director of the Master’s Gallery in Vail and a member of the town’s Commission on Special Events, said the Cascade building already has dance studios, classrooms and theaters, so why not start there.

Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Board chair Beth Slifer has been presenting her plans to the town in recent weeks, asking for some consensus to spend $24.6 million on the second floor at the Dobson Ice Arena as well as new buildings at the aging Vail Golf Club. That, according to the proposal, would provide space where seminars, classes and other health and wellness-related events can take place.

Kundolf said Slifer wants essentially the same thing she’s looking for – space.

“It’s a space issue,” Kundolf said. “And there’s a space (at the Cascade) and we’re really not utilizing it.”

Vail Town Council members have been receptive to the ideas presented by both Slifer and Kundolf, but given the town’s shrinking budget and growing list of capital projects it can’t afford, money is going to be the issue.

Slifer’s plan would require a voter’s decision on whether to use the $9.3 million conference center fund for the renovations and construction, as well as town debt to cover the rest. Kundolf said the Cascade option can be done a lot quicker and for much less money.

The buildings at the Cascade were already built under green building codes, and there’s room for dance space, art exhibitions, music performances, rehearsal space for local groups, medical seminars, theaters and much more, Kundolf said.

“It’s an economically doable project,” she said.

Health and wellness, the focus of Slifer’s plan, is just one area the town should focus on in terms of making the economy here year-round instead of just winter-based.

“There’s a lot more we can bring to Vail,” Kundolf said. “We need to enrich our community and make it year-round, and this is a facility that could do all of that.”

Slifer chose the Dobson Arena as an ideal location because it sits right in between Vail Village and Lionshead. Kundolf said there’s plenty of transportation available, such as hotel shuttles and the in-town bus, plus parking on-site, to make the Cascade just as attractive of an option.

Kundolf said the town should buy the building and make the necessary technology and interior upgrades to get the building up and running. The upgrades could be done in phases, and could include as much or as little as the town desires, she said.

She thinks the upgrades needed could be done for a few million dollars.

“It could be up and running in six months at some sort of capacity,” Kundolf said. “Do you want to buy a building (that’s already usable) or construct, that’s what it comes down to.”

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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