Vail Daily Our View: Why not a Steadman Center? |

Vail Daily Our View: Why not a Steadman Center?

Vail Daily Editorial Board
Vail, CO Colorado

Just us talking here, but the mish-mash of projects proposed for that $9.4 million burning a hole in Vail’s pocket has been, well, uninspiring.

Town lawyers insist the money collected in lodging and sales tax between 2002 and 2005 must be spent now. Why exactly now seems a little squishy. After all, this is the town that let a judge’s order to build a fire station linger for a quarter of a century before addressing it.

Besides, if a stew of this and that is all that’s on the table now, lowering the lodging tax to bleed out the $9.4 million compares favorably.

Before Vail’s citizenry voted – John Kerry-like – against a conference center, they voted for collecting funds for a conference center. The idea was to put more heads in beds in the offseasons, so the lodges got the lion’s share of the new tax.

Now the political pressure has built to the point that the Town Council plans to put something, anything, a small bunch of things on the ballot. All are … OK, but short of that certain visionary wow factor, to be sure.

The clubhouse at Vail Golf Course comes closest to fitting the aim of the tax, that heads-in-beds purpose. It’s relatively easy to see the high demand for wedding spaces in Vail with a clear-eyed grasp of the return on the investment compared to installing a welcome center, dressing up signs and expanding fields and gardens. Nice enough. But really?

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Everyone involved is bit coy for the moment, but we might have a “back to the future” episode brewing: Why not a conference center, after all?

Only, instead of the more general concept previously imagined in elections going back decades, build one that’s tailored for medical conferences.

The beauty of this idea is that these already happen in Vail, thanks mainly to the Steadman Clinic and Steadman Philippon Research Institute. Why not tap their full potential? Steadman leaders believe the place would be filled most weeks year-round.

The orthopedic clinic and research institute have evolved into internationally reknowned operations over the past 21 years.

Steadman, the hospital and town now are seeing the obvious value in partnering to replace the beehive and patchwork warrens that make up the clinic and institute with quality facilities to match the stature of a practice that attracts top athletes such as Alex Rodriguez and countless others.

Steadman is a Vail success story eclipsed only by the ski mountain itself. It only makes sense to build on this in a big way. The benefits for the community stretch down our long valley and are immense.

A Steadman Center – our working name for the idea; no one else has presumed – has the heads-in-beds purpose and wow factor for a world already accustomed to presentations around the globe by that “group from Vail.”

This is a “build it and they will come,” a customized center to go with top-flight facilities that have been long needed to help the clinic grow.

Such a center also has the potential to be the seed crystal that sets up the dawning of that medial and wellness economy that the valley’s visionaries have been talking about.

The truth is it’s already here, and ripe for just the type of partnership that the clinic, hospital and town are forming.

Done well, and with the community’s support, this is a project that has the highest chance of being a winner for Vail in many ways.

Just us saying, but wow.