Town of Vail to fund April 8 concert |

Town of Vail to fund April 8 concert

Who’s coming?

Promoter James Deighan is probably still texting artists and managers, but the list of potential musical acts for an April 8 concert includes:

• American Authors.

• Grace Potter.

• Ziggy Marley.

• Lukas Nelson.

• Nathaniel Rateliff.

• Leftover Salmon.

VAIL — Vail Mountain closes April 10 this year. That’s about a week earlier than usual, due in large part to the fact that Easter falls on March 27 this year. That relatively early closing date has some people in Vail nervous and eager to boost closing weekend excitement and activities if possible.

The Vail Town Council agreed on Tuesday to spend about $100,000 to add an April 8 concert to the closing weekend’s Spring Back to Vail events. Spring Back to Vail has traditionally featured concerts. According to a memo to the Vail Town Council from the town’s economic development staff, Vail Resorts, which owns Spring Back to Vail, decided against a concert this year, preferring instead to put its marketing muscle into events during slower periods.

That off-peak emphasis is why Vail brought back CarniVail, which includes a Mardi Gras-style Fat Tuesday parade, crowning of a king and queen and other events in town.

There’s also the matter of resident complaints about some Spring Back concerts. The 2014 concert by Sound Tribe Sector 9, in particular, drew complaints about not drawing a Vail-appropriate crowd, and included reports of at least one intoxicated concertgoer wearing an orange traffic cone as a hat after the show.

Big-time send-off

Despite those recent experiences, some in the town’s business community are concerned that a shorter-than-usual season needs a big-time send-off.

“I worry that (the April 10 closing date) really could be devastating, not just for businesses but (for) employees potentially losing a week of income,” said Jenn Bruno, Vail council member.

On Tuesday, council members were presented with three options: one or two concerts; a boost to the Vail International Film Festival scheduled for April 7 through 10; and the possibility of working on a package of specials with town retailers and restaurants.

After discussion with town staff and James Deighan, of Highline Sports and Entertainment, the company that produces many of Vail’s special events, the council decided on a package that includes all three elements.

The biggest expense will be the concert. While booking an April show in February is working on a tight schedule, Deighan said he’s confident that his relationships with artists and management companies will let him book a band that will draw an audience of roughly 5,000 people to Solaris Plaza.

Deighan said a lot of those people will come to Vail for the show and will stay, eat and shop. And, he added, his talent search is concentrated on acts that fit in with Vail and have either had past success in the location or fit the profile that town officials are looking for.

Without a Spring Back to Vail concert this year, Deighan said Vail would be at a kind of double disadvantage to other area resorts.

“We’re fighting what everybody now has copied,” he said. “We’ve been incredibly successful, and now (other resorts are) copying it. Now that we’re not doing it, they’re capitalizing twice.”

Closing Weekend Activities

For about $100,000, Vail will receive one concert, to be held onApril 8, which is a Friday. In addition, there’s now also talk of using the stage at Solaris Plaza in conjunction with the film festival for an event to be held on Saturday.

That will leave Sunday to Vail Resorts’ already-planned efforts at Golden Peak, including a DJ, a pond-skimming competition and other events.

Town Economic Development Director Kelli McDonald told the council that Vail Resorts officials have told her they will include the concert in the resort company’s marketing efforts for Spring Back to Vail.

While the council ultimately supported the spending for closing weekend — with money appropriated out of town reserves in its general fund — council member Dick Cleveland remained opposed to the idea.

“This is well-intentioned, but I don’t think it will do what we want it do,” Cleveland said. “The season will still end, and (new events) won’t make a bit of difference.”

Deighan disagreed.

“It does make a difference,” he said. “The return on investment is worth it, every single year. We don’t do things just to do them.”

The council will likely vote on a final program during its Feb. 16 meeting. Meanwhile, Deighan left the meeting immediately, saying, “I need to start texting people now.”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, and @scottnmiller.

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