Municipal money needed for X Fest 

RMI funding from province to RMOW for tourism not yet confirmed

click to enlarge PHOTO BY MATT MURRAY: MATTMURRAYPHOTOGRAPHY.COM - Tourism Whistler's president and CEO Barrett Fisher and Whistler Blackcomb's president and CEO Dave Brownlie present the X Games bid to council last week as part of a request for municipal funding to put on the X Fest in 2013.
  • Photo by Matt Murray: mattmurrayphotography.com
  • Tourism Whistler's president and CEO Barrett Fisher and Whistler Blackcomb's president and CEO Dave Brownlie present the X Games bid to council last week as part of a request for municipal funding to put on the X Fest in 2013.

It costs between $16 and $18 million to put on the X Games and Whistler is looking to bring up to $5 million to the table to sweeten its bid.That means it needs money from all levels of government — municipal, provincial and federal.

According to a recent Facebook post, former councillor Eckhard Zeidler said: "The last council saw it (the bid) and was not falling over themselves to get out the checkbook (sic)."

Speaking from his Lillooet ranch this week, Zeidler explained his apprehension.

"I had concerns whether the investment required would provide a direct return in visitors to the resort during the event or whether it was just an advertising opportunity."

Whistler is bidding for one spot on a six stop Global Series newly introduced by ESPN, producers of the X Games. If successful Whistler will create X Fest — a fusion of the sports of the X Games with the arts and culture of the homegrown World Ski and Snowboard Festival.

It is not the same as the signature domestic X Games that has been hosted in Aspen since 2002. In 2010, more than 114,000 people attended those Games, making it Aspen's busiest week after Christmas.

In addition to half a million dollars from Whistler Blackcomb and Tourism Whistler, bid organizers also predict about $2 million in sponsorship sales.

When asked how much the organizers are looking for from the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW), Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said:

"I don't think there's been an ask."

CAO Mike Furey said the RMI (Resort Municipality Initiative) funding is a potential source. That money — $7.5 million — is incremental money from the province specifically for tourism related projects. The funding has not yet been confirmed for 2012.

"The province hasn't confirmed yet funds for 2012 but we anticipate we'll get that confirmation soon," said Furey last week.

Zeidler added that the investment discussions will be the subject of a closed-door meeting under the Community Charter.

"It's a large investment of what will mainly be taxpayer funds, whether that be hotel tax or otherwise, and I think the community would deserve a breakdown of where that money is going and for what."

ESPN will likely announce the winning cities in April.

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