Vail mulls ‘third leg’ of economy |

Vail mulls ‘third leg’ of economy

VAIL – A local marketing group has offered up a $24.6 million plan to give Vail’s economy a “third leg” beyond skiing and real estate.

The money would build new facilities at Dobson Arena and the Vail Golf Course to help bring more health and wellness, outdoor and cultural activities to Vail, said Beth Slifer, of the Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Committee. Those activities would, in turn, bring more coveted out-of-state guests to Vail’s lodges, she said.

The upgraded facilities would aim to “enhance the year-round Vail brand,” Slifer said.

The plan was presented to the Vail Town Council on Tuesday evening. Some members were receptive to the ideas.

“I think you are a fabulous salesperson,” Councilwoman Margaret Rogers told Slifer. “You have convinced me of the wisdom of your ways.”

But Mayor Dick Cleveland worried that such a large plan would be tough to carry out. He cited ill-fated plans for a conference center, which was killed at the hands of voters in 2005 after project costs rose.

“I’ve watched things like this begin and die under the weight,” Cleveland said. “I’m concerned that by trying to do everything at one time, we are doomed to failure.”

Slifer said the time is now to undertake the whole proposal.

“I think we will fail if we don’t try to do all these things at once,” Slifer said. “If we do it piecemeal, we will not be fulfilling the goal of creating a third leg of the economy with facilities that provide for visitors outdoor recreation, health and wellness and cultural opportunities.”

The council decided to further consider the facets of the plan at future meetings.

Under the plan, $17.5 million would build a second floor to the Dobson Arena to create a 35,000-square-foot multipurpose space that could be used for meetings, concerts, banquets, art exhibitions and other events, Slifer said. Vail lacks a meeting space for 1,000 to 1,200 people, and there are many groups that are seeking such a facility in the town, Slifer said.

Another $4.9 million would build a 6,000-square-foot outdoor pavilion and a 8,000-square-foot indoor multipurpose center at the site of the aging Vail Golf Club clubhouse.

The outdoor facility could be used for weddings, reunions, events and gatherings and would offer views of the Gore Range. The indoor facility would have a restaurant, lockers, a pro shop and offices.

Under the proposal, the 18th green of the golf course would be relocated.

Another facet of the plan would redesign the 12th hole so a parking lot of as many as 200 spaces could be added. That would cost $1 million.

Also, the plan calls for adding another soccer field in the Ford Park area at a cost of $1.2 million.

Slifer suggested using the $9.3 million conference center fund, which was collected between 2003 and 2005. Additional funding – some $15.6 million – could come from bonds, tax-increment financing or possibly new taxes, Slifer said. Another $4.3 million that Vail Resorts has committed to the town of Vail for parking could also be used, Slifer said.

Rob LeVine, who is general manager of the Antlers in Lionshead, said, in his personal opinion, the plan seemed like it was pretty good.

“I think this is absolutely on the right track,” he said.

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