Frisco beckons tourists with new amenities
SUMMIT DAILY NEWS
With its new adventure park up and running and plans in the works for other new activities, Frisco is preparing to join Breckenridge on the map of tourist destinations in Summit County.
“This is the culmination of three-plus years of work,” Frisco town manager Michael Penny said of the new tubing hill and plans for future amenities. “This has been years of acknowledging that we are trying to be a year-round destination.”
The adventure park is phase one of a series of new activities coming to Frisco that will be both community-based and tourist-based. Plans for the future include an ice rink and U.S. Forest Service permits that will allow for summer recreational activities on federal land.
But Frisco’s growing ambitions could create some tension with neighboring Breckenridge, Summit County’s current major base for destination tourism.
Transportation is one of those points. Key to Frisco’s tourism efforts is a transit system that would connect lodging on Summit Boulevard, shops and restaurants on Main Street and the new adventure park on the peninsula. Frisco would like to see a local circulation route become part of the county-wide Summit Stage system, while Breckenridge, which contributes over 40 percent of the Stage’s budget from town sales tax revenues, would prefer to see Frisco establish its own internal transit system like the Breckenridge Free Ride. (Frisco used to have a modest transit system called the Frisco Flyer, but was phased out some years ago.)
“My hope would be that Frisco looks to our system,” Breckenridge Mayor John Warner said. “I think we in the Breckenridge Town Council would like to see a similar model in Frisco and other communities so that the Summit Stage doesn’t have to carry the load on all these in-town stops.”
But Frisco Town Councilman Kent Willis said, though transit talks are in the very early stages, the town is not interested in getting into the transit business.
“We think our circulator system should be part of the Summit Stage system,” Willis said. “The Town of Frisco hasn’t made any decisions. We’re open to all ideas at this point in time. I certainly understand where Breckenridge is coming from and am sympathetic with their position … We as the towns and as the total community (of Summit County), we’re going to have to figure out how to do this.”
Frisco doesn’t currently have a budget to cover an internal transit system, but Willis said the town council might consider contracting the Summit Stage to run a separate Frisco system. Breckenridge’s Free Ride costs the town upwards of $1 million annually.
Economic concerns regarding the launch of the new adventure park attraction in Frisco were discussed at the Breckenridge Town Council meeting Tuesday, but representatives of both towns have said there’s no competition between the two communities for tourism dollars.
“The county as a whole, we’re all in this together,” Penny said. “We’re not trying to be Breckenridge, from a bed-based standpoint. We’re not trying to be Silverthorne from a retail standpoint. Frisco has its own identity. We’re collectively trying to increase the size of the pie, not re-divide the existing pie.”
Breckenridge officials echoed Penny’s sentiment and suggested Frisco’s new amenities offered a complement to those found in Breckenridge. Breckenridge council members also explored the idea of putting money into grooming the Breckenridge sledding hill at Carter Park more often and promoting the park as a free sledding option in Breckenridge.
“(The adventure park) gives the guest another reason to choose coming to Summit County,” Breckenridge Town Councilman Mike Dudick said. “To the extent that that happens, I think that the rising tide’s going to float all boats higher. I think it’s incumbent upon our community (Breckenridge) to let people know they have an alternative that costs them nothing to go sledding or tubing.”
Tubing at Frisco’s adventure park runs guests $25 per hour.
In working to grow its tourism base, Frisco also faces some internal complications, with limited space and lodging accommodations. The town is bordered by Interstate 70 on one end and Dillon Reservoir on the other, with U.S. Forest Service land on both sides, insulating it and preventing expansion.
“We have to make sure that we’re being as efficient in the use of our space and resources as possible,” Penny said.
The town also has a limited number of guest beds available, many of which are on Summit Boulevard, away from the heart of downtown Frisco. While the town council would like to see new hotels and lodging companies set up shop in Frisco, particularly on Main Street, they don’t have much power to incentivize new businesses to come to town.
“Local government has a limited ability to influence a company’s decision to come to the community,” Penny said. Market factors and overhead costs often play a bigger role in those decisions, he said.
Frisco does not currently have any development applications for hotels.
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