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ESPN: Fireworks, Alcohol Will Enhance X Games Experience

Marci Krivonen

ESPN is asking Pitkin County to consider allowing alcohol and fireworks at the upcoming X Games. An official from the network went before county commissioners on Tuesday with the requests. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen explains.

ESPN officials say they want to enhance the X Games experience at the base of Buttermilk. That’s the site where athletes test their skills on the superpipe and throw tricks on jumps and rails.

In January, ESPN wants to expand its offerings with a fireworks show and alcohol service during music concerts over the four days of the Games. Vanessa Anthes is with ESPN.

"Music is a part of the lifestyle and culture of action sports and trying to enhance the event and give the best experience to our guests, we feel that that is the next step," she said.

To add these enhancements at Buttermilk, ESPN needs permits from Pitkin County. Yesterday the county commissioners were, at first, reluctant to get on board. Commissioner Rachel Richards said serving alcohol seemed contradictory to ESPN’s traditional message.

"It's a message that you don’t have to have alcohol to have a good time. These are athletes performing at their peak, we don’t have to have alcohol mix with that. So, this is kind of saying, ‘Hey, you can go to a concert and have a few drinks, the underage kids will be there with you but they won’t have the right wristband, and then we’ll all hustle back over to watch the events.’"

But, Anthes with ESPN said concert-goers will be limited to two-drinks per person during the duration of each music event.

"You’ll be able to get two beers or two glasses of wine and that’s it. You won’t be able to stand at the bar and just belly up."

ESPN held music concerts with alcohol in Aspen’s Wagner Park during the 2014 Games, and Anthes says those events went well.

The commissioners were also concerned about noise from a fireworks display spooking animals and disturbing nearby neighbors. They suggested finding relatively quiet fireworks and notifying neighbors using an aggressive outreach campaign. With those recommendations, the board gave the green light to ESPN to move forward.

The X Games will be held at Buttermilk January 22 through the 25.

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