Vail Daily column: Concerns about festival
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Vail Homeowners Association Newsletter. The association keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the Vail community. The electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at http://www.vailhomeowners.com.
In behind-the-scenes maneuvering, plans have been quietly underway since the fall of 2015 to bring a supersized three-day music and entertainment event to Vail in August of next year. Even though it’s more than 15 months away, the promoters are demanding town approval by June 10, a date before most second-home residents return to Vail. There is little time for even local residents to learn about the plans.
The event, known by the acronym KAABOO, is planned to attract 15,000 people the first year, rising to as many as 30,000-plus by its fifth year. The venture would be a joint partnership of private promoters and the Vail Valley Foundation, but town officials have also been involved in the discussions and planning. Although the plans only recently came to light at a Town Council meeting, the plans have progressed to selection of a date (Aug. 18-20, 2017), the production of a slick brochure, a proposed site plan and a suggested list of sponsors.
Vail KAABOO is based on a similar event that was held in Del Mar, California, in 2015. At that event there were multiple stages, many bands, food stands and art displays. Local media reported that the “sound assault” from the event was experienced up to three miles away, and windows and nerves were rattled. The Vail event would be the second such project and is being promoted as an annual event with a 20-plus year life.
According to the plans to date for the Vail event, it would occupy all of Ford Park including the amphitheater, baseball and soccer fields, the commons, tennis courts and the Ford Park parking lots. The target audience is a diverse, upscale demographic covering individuals in their 20s to those in their 50s. Although it has been presented as featuring a diverse range of music featuring 50-plus musical artists, the California event on which it is modeled is advertised as a rock ’n’ roll event. Alcohol will be sold, but beyond that, not much more is known. The hours of operation have not yet been disclosed nor has it been revealed how parking, security and crowd control, noise pollution and infrastructure and environmental impacts would be handled.
Even though many details are not yet known, the size and scope of this event brings into sharp focus whether Vail is being oversold and begs a number of serious questions. Who are the intended beneficiaries of this event? Why is the Vail Valley Foundation partnering with the promoters? What will the town of Vail be asked to contribute? Can and should the town of Vail authorize such an event given its impact on the community and the Vail quality of life? Is this just the forerunner of other similar supersized events?
Without question such an event would benefit the Vail business community and Vail Resorts. It would also indirectly benefit the community at large through sales tax increases, but only if that additional revenue was used to fund projects for the greater good and not just recycled to promote more events. Having 15,000 people descend on Vail next summer, rising to 30,000-plus people in the future, can have negative aspects. Amplified sound would impact at least East Vail neighborhoods; congestion would be pushed to the maximum; parking will be unavailable for many, including residents; road closures could be necessary in the Ford Park area; there could be serious impacts on Gore Creek where it flows through Ford Park, and if past large-crowd events are any clue, disruptive behavior could occur.
Vail has never been the site of a long weekend, multi-thousand audience music event. As perspective, a major ski day might see 20,000 skiers, but such days are rare and single day events. While the July 4 parade is reported to attract 40,000 people, it is only for a few hours, and there is near total gridlock during that time. While the 2015 World Championships drew a larger crowd, the focus was primarily downvalley, and it required a five-year effort to provide adequate crowd control and transportation. Apparently, a downvalley site is not being considered because the promoters want the cache of the Vail name. Send a letter or email expressing your opinion to the Vail Town Council.