Sports boost Vail’s economy |

Sports boost Vail’s economy

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
Vail Daily file photoLAX Marcus Holman DT 7-1-09

VAIL, Colorado – While business in Vail, Colorado, has been down this summer partly due to a drop in corporate group travel, the town is also seeing a slight boost from sporting events.

Traditionally, Vail’s summer has relied heavily on big corporate groups in town for business trips and meetings, but the stigma of expensive trips to resort destinations has hurt Vail, said Chris Romer of the Vail Valley Partnership.

“We had two large group cancellations directly related to holding at meeting at a resort location,” he said. “Not that we’re not still pursuing those groups, but it’s been tough.”

However, the town will add another group to target – athletes, of all ages and a wide range of sports. For example, Vail’s Lacrosse Shootout, while bringing in slightly fewer participants this year, continues to bring many players and their families to the valley.

The town also saw some business from last weekend’s road biking event, the Triple Bypass, a 120-mile ride which ended in Avon.

“I had at least three people come into the store from the event,” said Masters Gallery owner Rayla Kundolf. “That’s actually how I found out about it.”

Romer said Vail is still in the process of becoming known as place with playing fields, courts and sporting facilities.

“Many of the sports groups we talked to didn’t understand the fields and facilities we had,” he said. “The events we have been having have been positive in raising that awareness.”

The Vail Valley Partnership has other groups on tap to play and compete in Vail over the next couple summers. Events include a Gaelic hurling festival in Vail next summer, a cheerleading competition at Dobson Arena in December, and a 2010 Memorial Day Weekend softball tournament. Other prospective events include the USA Judo Open and the U.S. lacrosse regional tournament.

The new business, while perhaps not from Vail’s usual crowds, is welcome, business owners and industry experts said.

As of June 30, tourism business, measured by hotel occupancy and rates, was down 17 percent from last year, according to Ralf Garrison of MTRIP research advisors. While numbers are down, Vail continues to do better than other resorts in the industry, he added.

Businesses will also be gearing up for what will likely be a tough and unpredictable winter, he said.

“Generally people say that recovery is coming, and that’d be nice, but we don’t know when,” said Garrison. “We’ve taught people some bad habits by giving huge discounts and last-minute deals. We’re just going to have to be very nimble.”

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

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