Chamber nears flight program goal

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— The Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association is closer to its goal of raising $750,000 to contribute to the Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp.'s winter airline program.
Chamber Executive Vice President Sandy Evans Hall said the fund drive is within $7,500 of its goal if the city of Steamboat renews last year's budget of $90,000 from city coffers.
The chamber had originally set the goal of reaching $750,000 by Labor Day, but Evans Hall said contributions have continued to come in from individual businesses during the past 30 days.
"The average business is donating $2,500 to $2,600," Evans Hall said.
The money is going to augment $1.4 million budgeted by the ski corp. to assure passenger jets will fly into Yampa Valley Regional Airport this winter. The ski corp., which budgeted $1 million last winter, says it can't go any higher than $1.4 million this winter. And even with another $750,000 from the business community, this winter's airline program will bring 11 percent fewer roundtrip airline seats into the valley.
Last ski season, 150,000 roundtrip seats flew in and out of YVRA, and about 100,000 passengers booked flight on the aircraft.
The resort lodging community has pledged $450,000 to the airline program, Evans Hall said. The commitment from the restaurant industry now totals $75,800.
In addition, retail businesses have contributed $92,025; construction, $10,815; activities, $6,525 and other businesses, $18,250.
One of the main destinations expected to be missing form the ski corp.'s winter flight program in 2000/2001 is direct flights form Chicago's O'Hare airport.
Ski corp. Vice President of Marketing Andy Wirth said earlier this summer that the "opportunity cost" airline officials attach to aircraft flying to business destinations from Chicago make it prohibitively expensive to secure the big jets for leisure travel to Steamboat.
Wirth said that the gap between the cost of bringing airline seats here and total skier days for the season has steadily widened in the last five years, increasing the ski area's cost per passenger. Now, he said the ski corp. needs broader support from the business community.


To reach Tom Ross call 871-4210, or e-mail tomross@amigo.net

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