Our View: Event funding is appropriate
February 19, 2011
Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and its Special Event Funding Committee hit the nail on the head with their approach to funding allocations this year.
Each year, the committee sifts through requests from community groups vying for a limited pot of funds intended to help put on events that will attract and boost summer tourism in the city. This year, that amount decreased to $65,000; it was $75,000 a year ago.
The money is given to the Chamber by the city of Steamboat Springs, and we continue to think it's an appropriate use of city sales tax revenues. Providing seed money for events with the potential to drive summer business can offer a significant return on investment. But not all events deserve funding, and some events are more appropriate recipients of these funds than others.
Such is the difficult job faced by members of the Special Event Funding Committee. This year, they received requests totaling $168,000 — more than $100,000 more than what was available to allocate.
Some popular events, including Ride 4 Yellow and the Strings Home and Garden Tour, received no funding at all. Most received significantly less than they asked for.
The inaugural Quiznos Pro Challenge, expected to bring national and international media attention to Steamboat in summer when its professional riders finish and start race stages in downtown Steamboat, received $10,000. So did the Steamboat All Arts Fest.
At the other end of the spectrum is a ReTree Colorado event that will get $500 this year.
Perhaps more important than the specific dollar amounts received by individual events is the rationale behind the process.
Chamber Executive Vice President Sandy Evans Hall pointed out the difference between events that are motivators, and ones that are satisfiers. Motivators encourage people to come to Steamboat. Satisfiers make their trip more enjoyable once already here.
We need people to enjoy their visits to Steamboat, but we first need to get them here. Hence the importance of providing more funding to those events more likely to drive traffic to our community.
Finally, Evans Hall and some City Council members appropriately reminded the community that the special event funding is intended to provide start-up money for events with potential to drive tourism here. The funding isn't supposed to be a long-term crutch for every popular event in town.
Indeed, as City Councilman Walter Magill noted, an event receiving less money from the special event fund than in previous years could be a sign of its maturity and success. It simply doesn't need that additional money anymore and can stand on its own.
We don't envy the task of the Special Event Funding Committee, but we're pleased with the results of its work this year.