By Evan Johnson
KILLINGTON—Killington Resort got a big start to the 2016-2017 winter with some of the skiing world’s top skiers crashing the gates on Superstar in front of thousands of screaming fans.
The races drew crowds numbering approximately 30,000, earned over 100 million media impressions in the United States and garnered high praise from ski industry representatives and athletes alike, and the resort wants to see the same thing next year. But a World Cup race is still an expensive endeavor.
As a way to make the cost of hosting the World Cup more sustainable, the resort is approaching other sources for help. The town of Killington is one of them. At the Killington Select Board meeting Jan. 10, Killington Resort President and General Manager Mike Solimano pitched a request for $100,000 from the local options tax revenue.
In preparations for the weekend of races, the resort incurred costs of approximately $2.57 million in lodging, prize money for racers, temporary infrastructure, snowmaking and more. While the resort took in about $1.3 million in USSA sponsorships, ticketing, food and beverage, the net cost to the resort of the entire weekend came to $1,205,000.
If the resort wants to host the World Cup again, Solimano said, they would need to find a way to pay for it. “If we want to bring it back we need to figure out ways to make it not cost as much,” he said. “That’s just the reality.”
Killington residents approved the 1 percent option tax in 2008 to help raise money for special funding for economic development in the town. In the past five years, Solimano said Killington has raised option tax revenues by $200,000 as a result of summer investment in summer activities, such as mountain biking.
“The option tax is growing and we’re saying put it back into economic development,” he said.
Solimano wrapped up his presentation by saying the event would likely incur additional costs for more amenities including bus transportation and bathrooms, an estimated cost of $100,000. By raising a total of $535,000 from sources including title sponsors and organizations such as Ski Vermont, the Killington Pico Area Association and funds from the option tax, he said he hopes to bring the net cost to the resort down to $770,000.
“The amount we’re asking to come out of the option tax is a pretty small amount compared to the total cost of the event,” he said.
Select Board member Chris Bianchi spoke in support of the plan, saying the World Cup was “the homerun of an event that we’ve all been trying to get.” Bianchi also said neighboring towns in the Killington area would be wise to support efforts to get the World Cup to return.
“If we’re successful here, next year there should be an effort to go out and get regional support,” he said.
At the end of the discussion, the Select Board unanimously passed a motion supporting the expenditure.