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Winter X Games Might Be Leaving Aspen

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

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ASPEN, Colo. (CBS4) – Over the past 11 years the Winter X Games have become the crown jewel for the Roaring Fork Valley, but that could all be coming to an end.

The games start Thursday at Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen, but it’s the final year of the contract and it may not be back next year.

Work is going on behind the scenes with Aspen Ski Company and ESPN.

“We’ve been talking for a long time, for about a year, and ESPN is just trying to figure out where Aspen fits in this global strategy they’ve launched,” John Rigney with Aspen Ski Company said.

The negotiations have been private, but even the city has gotten involved trying to lure the mammoth event to stay.

As the X Games have grown in the past decade, so has its impact on the Roaring Fork Valley’s economy.

“Ten years ago our occupancy here was about 69 percent, and this weekend we’re looking at 98 percent occupancy, so definitely business is on a major uptick,” Debbie Braun with the Aspen Chamber Resort Association said.

“The town is full and it’s packed and it’s a great anchor for the rest of the winter,” Rigney said.

The Resort Association says a survey was done 4 years ago and the X Games produces up to $3 million a day in retail sales; and the impact of the event can go beyond the weekend.

“People come here in the summertime asking, ‘Where’s Buttermilk? Where did Shaun White throw that amazing trick?’ So it definitely trickles all year long,” Braun said.

Even the top athletes don’t want to see the X Games leave Aspen.

“We’ve created this amazing experience here and I think Aspen needs X Games, X Games needs Aspen,” pro snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler said. “It would just be so awkward anywhere else.”

CBS4 asked ESPN for their side of the story and all they were willing to say is they’re still continuing negotiations with Aspen Ski Company. But they say they’re excited about the weekend ahead.

Aspen Ski Company wants to renew the contract so badly they sent a memo to every hotel in the city asking the management to share with the staff the importance of being extra friendly to anyone associated with the X Games.

There isn’t a timeline for a new contract to be signed.

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