Slide's first season a howling success

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— "The Howler" alpine slide opened later than developers hoped this summer. And when it finally did open on Aug. 12, it was just in time for the summer monsoons that shut it down for a portion of most days. Still, there are signs that The Howler will turn out to be the revenue source the nonprofit Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club hopes it will be.

Winter Sports Club Executive Director Rick DeVos said this week that during the 27 days it has been open, the Howler has logged about 15,000 trips, generating $125,000 in gross revenues.

This weekend marks the end of The Howler alpine slide's first season, and people are being offered $2 rides for the final three days of operation in 2000. Adult single rides usually cost $8. "I want every local possible who has not been on the slide to come on down here," said Rick DeVos, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club executive director. Weather permitting, The Howler will operate from 2- to 6 p.m. Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

"Our biggest single day saw almost 1,400 people go down the slide," DeVos said. "But I hesitate to call that the record, because almost every single day we were open, it rained."

The slide cannot operate when the track is wet because it renders the brakes on the sleds ineffective. Also, the chairlift that ferries riders and sleds to the top of Howelsen Hill cannot be operated when there is lightning in the area, DeVos said.

DeVos couldn't really complain about the monsoon rains that broke Steamboat's summer-long drought; he'd been praying for dry weather all summer as crews rushed to complete the slide.

The slide was developed by an offshoot of the Winter Sports Club, Community Slide Inc. Club funds paid for the cost of construction of the slide, which was built on a city park.

Even though the slide has been open for 27 days, the final details of a revenue-sharing contract with the city of Steamboat Springs are still being worked out, and the contract hasn't been signed, DeVos said. He added that both parties have been comfortable with operating the slide without a contract. They have an agreement in principle, and the delay has allowed them to collect more facts about the revenues and cost sides of operating the slide, DeVos said.

He said the intent all along has been to split the net proceeds equally between the city and the club.

City Director of Parks, Open Space and Recreation Chris Wilson declined to comment on the the nature of the details that remain to be worked out, saying the negotiations are ongoing.

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

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