Steamboat commission to analyze vision for Howelsen Hill


Past Event

Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Commission work session

  • Wednesday, October 26, 2011, 5:30 p.m.
  • Steamboat Springs Community Center, 1605 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs
  • All ages / Free


— The Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Commission will meet with Howelsen Hill stakeholders Wednesday about the vision for the historic ski hill and whether it can generate revenue for the city.

Commission members also will continue a discussion that started Oct. 12 about the possible formation of a Howelsen Hill task force.

Commission Director Chris Wilson said he invited Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club officials, the Steamboat Springs Nordic Council, the city’s Ice Rink Advisory Board, officials from the Howelsen Emerald Mountain Partnership and the city’s Historic Preservation Commission to the work session.

It starts at 5:30 p.m. in the American Legion room at the Steamboat Springs Community Center and is open to the public.

“We’re going to talk about the mission of Howelsen Hill,” Wilson said, adding that the groups would discuss whether it should be a competitive ski facility or a location for special events among other uses. “We’ve got to have that conversation. That will help determine next steps.”

He said it was important to start the discussion with stakeholders about what the community wants out of Howelsen. Then, Wilson said, the groups could brainstorm how to generate additional revenue and cut costs, ideas that could include collaboration among user groups or privatization of some services.

Some Steamboat Springs City Council members expressed concern during Steamboat’s all-day budget hearing Oct. 4 about the operation of Howelsen Hill, including a reduction in hours and whether the ski hill could be profitable.

Howelsen historically has required an annual operational subsidy from the city’s general fund that in recent years has reached nearly $1 million, which also includes some support to the Brent Romick Rodeo Arena. The subsidy is projected to be nearly $800,000 next year.

Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Jack Trautman expressed concern at the last meeting that commission members didn’t have enough information from the City Council to continue the Howelsen Hill task force discussion.

City Council member Kenny Reisman has been invited and said he hopes to attend. He has a conflict as a volunteer coach for the Steamboat Springs High School boys varsity soccer team. The team is scheduled to play in the state playoffs Wednesday night in Denver, but the game could be canceled because of weather.

Reisman said he would like to hear about how Howelsen got to where it is today and what conversations about its future have taken place, especially among the groups that use the facility.

“I’m going there more for gathering information and hearing more about the conversations we have had as a means toward moving forward,” he said. “It’s problematic to take leaps forward without analyzing where we’ve been.”

Wilson said the goal of the discussion was to generate some ideas for Howelsen that he or Reisman could present to the rest of the City Council. He said task force discussions could continue to another Parks and Recreation Commission meeting.

Also Wednesday night, Wilson said Whistler Park bike park planner Blair Seymour was scheduled to present alternative sites to the Parks and Recreation Commission. Planners abandoned the plan for the site between Whistler Park and Walton Creek after the Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District board of directors delayed action on a decision to permit the bike park on its land.

Wednesday’s meeting will be the last at the community center. Parks and Recreation Commission meetings will be televised from Centennial Hall starting Nov. 9.

To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email


steamboatsprings 5 years, 6 months ago

Here is hoping this team finds a good solution. The success of Howelsen and the experiences it provides for our kids is a keystone of Steamboat.


housepoor 5 years, 6 months ago

How much does the rodeo operators pay for use of the facilities? Or is actually run by the City and non profit? I'd like to here more fiscal details about the rodeo operation?


sedgemo 5 years, 6 months ago

HP, my understanding is all the rodeo ticket income goes to the City, and I do remember in the Pilot the rodeo funds were cut 50% last summer, so they received $3k for 10 weekends, or $150 for each rodeo day. I guess that pays for one or two cleanup people is all. I'd like to know more, too, since I want to see the rodeo stay healthy.

To the folks investigating this... consider if there is some way to haul tourists up for a day fee, and let them hike down in summer, or take a ride back down. Even a single gondola car would open up HH to many more visitors. Many can't handle the altitude + hiking, won't ride horses or bike but could do a short visit up to take in the view. The gondola on Mt. Werner is running all summer but is too pricey for many, so HH could offer an in-town, less expensive but still wonderful experience. How do folks get on the Alpine Slide anyway? I've only hiked and ridden Emerald horseback, don't live in town but consider HH the heart of Steamboat.


Scott Wedel 5 years, 6 months ago

Well, they should learn how to call HH a marketing expense. If calling ourselves Bike Town USA is worth so much in tourism dollars then think how much it be worth if we called ourselves something like Ski Town USA and we could have an event like a carnival during the winter that would be a big tourist draw. Oh, looks like they already do that.

Seems to me that Howelson Hill is an integral part of SB marketing image of local kids skiing. So while it always makes sense to review expenses, that setting a goal of profitability could easily cost a lot more in decreased marketing exposure.

Such as if SSWSC were to get a major corporate sponsor that got naming rights and became the Pepsico WSC then Steamboat Springs would lose all the marketing mentions that would now go to Pepsico.


1999 5 years, 6 months ago

I like it Scott.

I agree...sswsc is an integral part of the whole Steamboat picture and marketing. Alot of the reason we call ourselves Ski Town USA is because of our olympic heritage which is a direct result of HH and SSWSC.

I think this is something that is worth every penny.


Cedar Beauregard 5 years, 6 months ago

Howelsen Hill defines Steamboat and who we are as a community.. Should we look at making Howelsen more self sufficient? Certainly.. But please don't underestimate the value of keeping Howelsen (a City Park) a vibrant place..


greenwash 5 years, 6 months ago

How about move the rodeo grounds out to Legacy Ranch and put a multi purpose indoor multi field house in its place?Build a better lighted tubing hill.Add a climbing wall and first class pump track .Find an ex olympian to run it and finance it through memberships.Id join .


sedgemo 5 years, 6 months ago

Green, I'd rather see an indoor Olympic equestrian center... multiple riding disciplines are now equestrian events. There is also the question of how the rodeo grounds were built in the first place, who provided money, land, facilities etc., there may be strings attached, I don't know the history.

My bias is to have more horse activity in town, not less. We have bikes all over creation now but this town has been marketed extensively on its ranching heritage, which is not something to toss away lightly in pursuit of yet another tourist town full of bicycles.


greenwash 5 years, 6 months ago

sedgemo - Horses in Steamboat is very seasonal thing , olympic calibar facilities need lots of space and millions in support. Not going to happen here.Mabye a big indoor for cutting horses or something like that but all the top eventers in the world head to Florida , Arizona , California for winter horse activities and really all year round . A move to Legacy Ranch wouldnt diminish anything it would enhance it .I didnt say anything about bikes , Im talking indoor fieldhouse for soccer , lacrosse etc so we can play and practice year round...cover gardner field for that matter...Cover it and they will come.


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