Vail to increase funding for the 2018 Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding event
What: The Burton U.S. Open.
When: Monday, March 5, to Saturday, March 10, 2018.
Who’s coming? Shaun White and Chloe Kim, among others.
This story has been corrected. Burton’s former home was Stratton, Vermont.
VAIL — The Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships seems to have delivered on its promise to become a very big deal in Vail.
The Vail Town Council on Tuesday, Dec. 5, agreed to put an extra $86,000 above 2017 funding toward the U.S. Open. The town’s total cash outlay for 2018 will be $490,000, plus providing services from traffic control to providing space at Ford Park and the RV parking lot at the Lionshead Village parking structure.
Council members Tuesday talked to representatives from Burton and Highline Sports and Entertainment, the local company that helps put on the show.
The 2018 U.S. Open will be the sixth held in Vail after nearly 30 years at Stratton, Vermont, Burton’s backyard.
Whitney Heingartner, of Burton, told the council that company founder Jake Burton first proposed the idea of moving to Vail.
Now, with a successful five years behind the event’s new home in the Rockies, “Vail’s our home, and we want to continue the event here,” Heingartner said. “We want this to be the premiere global event in the premiere mountain town.”
That global reach — on television and streaming services — is likely to stretch a bit more in 2018. The U.S. Open is the first major snowboarding event following the 2018 Winter Olympics. That means interest will be high. Heingartner said Burton intends to seize that opportunity.
The post-Olympics buzz will continue in Vail, with most of the world’s top riders committing to attend the events.
For Vail, the international exposure is always good. But Burton has also become an immediate dollars-and-cents success, too.
James Deighan, of Highline, told the council that Vail’s lodging occupancy for the first week of March was about 80 percent before the U.S. Open came to town. In 2017, lodging occupancy was at 96 percent for U.S. Open week. The average daily rate for the week has increased, too, he added.
People coming to the U.S. Open have also returned to Vail for family vacations, Deighan said. The event’s “net promoter score,” a tool that measures customer satisfaction, has also been increasing every year, he added.
For the 2018 event, Heingartner said there would be more in-town events in Lionshead Village, including a viewing area on the plaza. There would also be more youth-oriented events, including a mini terrain park for kids. Children will be able to meet snowboarding stars and, in a partnership with Microsoft, can build their own snowboards.
The company is also boosting its environmental sustainability efforts. Heingartner said the company is committed to a “zero-waste, carbon-neutral” event.
Council members seemed willing to provide extra funding to the event.
“What I don’t want to do is pull back when we have success,” said council member Jenn Bruno, adding that the U.S. Open is Vail’s only on-mountain winter event.
Heingartner, Deighan and town officials praised the partnership between Vail, Burton and Vail Resorts.
“We’re excited to come back to Vail,” Heingartner said.
The feeling seems to be mutual.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org and @scottnmiller.
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