This month’s Winter X Games will mean more road closures in Aspen than in previous years. That's because the city wants to make way for music concerts downtown, in Wagner Park. Aspen is taking pains to make sure businesses and residents know what to expect…including a recent meeting at City Hall.
Below is a transcript of Reporter Elise Thatcher's story:
Reporter: That’s heavyweight DJ Axwell. His concert will come to Aspen later this month, as part of the X Games experience...and it’s one reason for trickier traffic in town that week. To make sure that goes smoothly…
Scott Kenner: “Does anyone need handouts?”
Reporter: Scott Kenner is doing some extra legwork. He’s Permit Coordinator for Special Events in Aspen… and the guy when it comes to making sure Aspenites know what’s up with the X Games. The X Games are large-scale and bring tens of thousands of people to town. The event is held primarily at Buttermilk...but this year, the celebrations extend to Aspen. Kenner must make sure he knows who could be affected by the event.
Kenner: “We’ve been using some of the local maps that exist, current lists that we have, but also walking around town trying to check off condos, property management areas…”
Reporter: That means literally going door to door.
Kenner: [Laughs] “It’s a lot of walking into the condos and introducing yourself and getting a proper contact.”
Reporter: A big part of that is because the City of Aspen and ESPN… which puts on the X Games... want to make sure people know about road closures. The music in Wagner Park will be held on Saturday January 25th, and Sunday January 26th. So far, Kenner says there have been mixed comments from folks who know it’s on the calendar.
Kenner: “There’s been some positive, a few negative, but that’s understandable for any event that has impacts of this nature. Mostly I think some people, it’s just not on their radars yet. Everyone was still in Christmas and Hanukkah and New Year mode when I was walking around.”
Reporter: The road closures affect mainly two streets downtown… one will be partially closed the week before the X Games, to make sure a gigantic stage can be set up in Wagner Park. Jennifer Rieber is Senior Manager for ESPN X Games Event Production.
Jennifer Reiber: “We’re very cognizant that it’s very early in the morning, there’s some residences right there, we’ll be really careful to make sure we’re as quiet as possible.”
Reporter: Traffic will be affected the most over the weekend, when the concerts take place. Closing two roads is part of a plan to make sure regular and extra RFTA busses have enough room to pick up passengers… because there might be a lot of people coming to see some major acts on stage….
Reporter: That’s DJ Tiesto. Then there’s the French alternative rock band Phoenix…
Reporter: And indie rock duo Matt and Kim, from Brooklyn. Tickets are going for a song compared to seeing those acts elsewhere. Again, Jennifer Rieber.
Reiber: “Music has become really important to us, we’re trying to kind of blow out the brand a little bit, and try and tap into the lifestyle of the X Games and that market. And we’ve decided that music is really a good avenue for that.”
Reporter: And ESPN believes it’s a good way to bring some of the X Games atmosphere downtown, too. But they have to make sure people can easily get there… the last time they had concerts in Wagner Park, busses were overflowing and people started walking along Highway 82, in the dark. Organizers told Pitkin County Commissioners yesterday [Tuesday] they want to make sure that doesn’t happen again. As for keeping locals in the loop, the city will be sending out email updates to businesses, hotels and residents or homeowners near Wagner Park. There aren’t any more meetings planned, but another may be held before the X Games start on January 23rd. People with questions should contact the city of Aspen Special Events Department.