Town of Breck sets recreation bar high
rec league correspondent
BRECKENRIDGE ” The town of Breckenridge thrives on tourism, there is no escaping it.
Thus, it is necessary for the local economy to have a constant population of worker bees ” ticket checkers, lift operators, ski patrollers and instructors, groomers, rental staff, waitstaff, line cooks, bartenders, housekeepers … the list is endless.
Their necessity alone, however, does not tell the full story of why the crowds gravitate to live in this county, which is aptly named, “Colorado’s Playground.”
No one is getting rich doing these jobs. And the town of Breckenridge knows that. To the tune of $3.5 million to $4 million spent per year on recreational activities, largely catered to locals.
“People do live here for a lifestyle choice,” said Breckenridge Mayor Ernie Blake. “You look out the window, you look up and see what you see, and that’s just part of the package.”
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“Where I grew up, all we had were the team sports,” said Chip Dunmon, a longtime Summit County resident and multisport athlete.
“That’s one of the great things about this area. There’s snowboarding, skiing, mountain biking and hiking. But it’s super-nice to have the team sports too. We have all of it out here.”
For a municipality that bills itself as “The Perfect Mountain Town,” these rec offerings play a large role.
“I think that larger cities would be proud to have the amenities that we have,” he said.
All in one little town
Aside from the obvious, Breckenridge Ski Resort, the town is home to a beautiful golf course, a 69,000-square-foot rec center, an ice arena (with two rinks) that stays open year-round, a Nordic center with 80 kilometers of trails and well-maintained hiking/biking/running trails that connect like spider webs.
Yet the facilities themselves are little without the organized competitions they host. The Breckenridge Recreational Center and its surrounding fields are home to adult basketball, flag football, soccer, softball and volleyball leagues (the soccer and softball leagues are organized by outside entities), as well as fringe events like kickball and dodgeball tournaments.
Stephen C. West Ice Arena houses five adult hockey leagues, with seven to 10 teams apiece. In addition, the Jack Nicklaus-designed, 27-hole municipal golf course hosts weekly competitions throughout the summer, and the town sponsors and organizes a popular six-race trail running series.
“Not every mountain town has what we have. Some do, but I don’t think anyone does it quite as well as Breckenridge,” Dunmon said.
Businesses chip in for young worker bees
Dunmon falls within the age group that makes up a large part of the Breckenridge population ” about 65 percent of its residents are between the ages of 20 and 44. The median age is just over 29, about six years younger than that of our nation. Naturally, younger people tend to put more emphasis on play, and people who play tend to live here.
For a town of about 3,000 people, there’s quite a lot going on, and these recreational leagues are huge to those who participate. People take care to schedule their vacations around their league schedule, and it’s common for residents to take time off work for big games ” with full approval from their employers.
“I like to see active people,” said John Daisy, owner of Fatty’s Pizzeria. Daisy is one of a plethora of local business owners who invest time and money toward providing an affordable recreational experience for the blue-collar workers that keep the heart of this town ” and county ” beating.
For example, Daisy inherited sponsorship of the Gentlemen of the Blue Goose rugby team when he moved here from Chicago and purchased Fatty’s in 1981. He’s kept it up ever since, and has added to his rec support by sponsoring hockey, basketball, softball and volleyball teams that play every week. He spends $6,000 per year on hockey teams alone.
While Fatty’s is a major contributor, its efforts are closely mirrored by other businesses throughout the county. Flip through the yellow pages and chances are you’ll recognize many business names because of the teams they sponsor.
It all forms a circle. Happy locals provide a product to visitors who are happy to return and spend big bucks. The economy smiles back through millions in subsidized dollars of fun-money. Local business owners smile, too. Because their worker bees get to play.
“It’s more than just writing a check,” Daisy said. “It’s a neighborhood thing that I grew up with. Everybody’s having fun and it’s good for the community.”
Demographic information used in this story was taken from breckenridge.areaconnect.com and usgovinfo.about.com.
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