Testing the ice: Breck gears up for MMW
BRECKENRIDGE – If they come, Breckenridge will bring it.Jeff Baum, executive director of the Breckenridge Music Festival, will soon break the ice on a new venue – Stephen C. West Outdoor Ice Arena – in hopes of attracting a younger crowd. If it does, he’s ready to bring in bigger, more rockin’ acts next summer.In his first attempt, he booked Medeski, Martin and Wood for an Aug. 8 show.”We’re trying to explore new venues with the town for the bigger rock ‘n’ roll acts,” Baum said. “Among the 20- to 30-year-old set, the Riverwalk Center has a reputation for being a stuffy, classical environment. By going to the ice arena, we’re trying to provide a new environment -one that will be way more casual.”If the event is successful, it will provide another opportunity to utilize a bigger venue and sell more tickets and get bigger acts in. We’d like to see about four big concerts there a year, but it’s going to be up to the people of Summit County.”Besides the Riverwalk’s perceived older crowd image, Baum doesn’t think younger crowds want to pay more expensive concession prices. At the Riverwalk Center, which holds about 750 people according to Baum, a beer is $4. Baum has contracted with Breckenridge Brewery to offer $2 beers at the ice arena.”This is an opportunity to see a great band in a different setting and drink cheap beer,” Baum said. “They play long sets – they’re going to play a one and a half hour set, take a 15 minute break, then play close to another hour and a half – so the bang for the buck is going to be there.”
Speaking of money, Baum is placing a big bet – paying $25,000 to bring the band to the ice arena.”It’s a huge liability – the rental, temporary fencing, security,” Baum said. “The expense and what the Breckenridge Music Festival is going through is going to be worth it if we can turn it into a practical venue that could be available to us.”Baum will start setting up the temporary fencing necessary for the show Tuesday or Wednesday. The 32-by-24-foot stage arrives on Saturday, Aug. 7. He’ll use a state-of-the-art Adamson sound system similar to the one at the Riverwalk Center – only bigger, Baum said.”This concert could be the largest concert ever in Breckenridge, with a potential of 2,400 patrons,” said Stephanie Texera, with the festival. “Medeski, Martin and Wood is one of the most sought after bands in the jam band genre, having headlined at this summer’s Bonnaroo Music Festival.”Though Baum doesn’t expect 2,400 people, he hopes to draw about 1,500.The ice rinks’ chance to see improvements
In addition to a large draw allowing Baum to book bigger acts, he hopes it might bring improvements to the ice arena.Town council has considered building a roof over the outdoor rink, but the project sits on a “remote wish list,” said Kim DiLallo, Breckenridge events and communication manager.”If this concert works, we’d hope it would influence the town council to even more strongly consider putting up a shed roof,” Baum said.Tuesday, town council decided to put the shed roof improvement on its B list of priorities in favor of such projects as information system and Web site upgrades, Nordic trail improvements, road resurfacing, improvements to Main Street, installation of public art and rehabilitation of the Barney Ford Museum, DiLallo said.”It’s definitely not on the A priority list for 2004,” DiLallo said. “But if this is a successful concert and we see that it’s a viable use for the arena, that will probably move it up in the priority list because then we can use that facility for other events.”But town manager Tim Gagen sounded less optimistic.”It’s going to compete with a lot of other projects,” Gagen said. “(We’d build) the roof because on heavy snow years, we have to close the rink. We had never contemplated it for additional venue use, so that probably won’t be the driving factor.”
Keeping the neighbors happyThere aren’t as many residencies near the ice arena as there are around the Riverwalk Center, DiLallo said, but organizers are taking precautions to minimize impacts on neighbors.”Jeff Baum is being very responsible about letting neighbors know about the concert, putting up a fence and making sure people will park at the F Lot (about two blocks away), out of the neighborhood,” said Vanessa Flaherty, Breckenridge facility and events coordinator.The maximum decibel level will be the same as at the Riverwalk Center, at 100, and the concert will end by 10 p.m., in accordance with the town ordinance on noise curfews, Flaherty said.The concert, which starts at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 8, is festival seating, meaning people will be standing, sitting on blankets or bringing their own chairs. The show will go on, rain or shine, so dress appropriately for the outdoor setting.Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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