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Mammoth recreation commission hears event venue options

August 12, 2013

In its effort to come up with a definitive study on the state of Mammoth’s event venues, a Chicago consulting firm this past week took a somewhat surprising approach.

In listing comparable resorts, the HVS Convention, Sports & Entertainment Facilities Consulting Group chose to ignore Mammoth’s closest neighbor to the North, Lake Tahoe.

That surprised Recreation Commissioner Sean Turner, who used some of his time at the commission meeting on Aug. 6 to question Thomas Hazinski, the managing director of the firm.

Hazinski, whose firm has a $60,000 contract from Mammoth to study the town’s event venue options, replied the criteria for selecting comparable cities simply didn’t include a resort that was so close to an international air destination, which in Lake Tahoe’s case is Reno.

Also working against the Mammoth-to-Tahoe comparison is the presence of casinos and gambling, which Mammoth does not have and will not have in the future.

Rather, his firm chose resorts that are comparable in remoteness to Mammoth, which included Aspen, Jackson Hole, Sun Valley, Telluride, and Whistler.

The report HVS delivered on Tuesday is not complete, however.

In addressing the recreation commission, Hazinski and his firm made clear that this was an “interim report,” meant to trigger questions and discussions among commissioners, as well as others who have a stake in expanding Mammoth’s events programming.

At the heart of the report, and at the heart of why the commission said it commissioned $60,000 in Measure R funds, is in finding a location for a permanent entertainment/arts venue.

By having outside eyes look at the town’s ongoing dilemma on this issue, the commission is on record as saying it needed someone else to lead the discussion.

Thus in April, the town contracted HVS, which uses a variety of measurements—environmental, financial, and so on—to come to recommendations.

Because the report that was delivered on Tuesday was an interim report, both Hazinski and former town planner Bill Taylor, who is assisting on the project, cautioned against drawing any conclusions.

Even so, the interim report indicated that “fatal flaws” were so numerous for proposed entertainment venues that it really came down to only two viable options: the property at the Mammoth Lakes Foundation at Cerro Coso Community College, and Sam’s Woodsite along Minaret Boulevard.

Both venues have been heavily used this summer, with the Woodsite having just hosted a throng of up to 6,000 people over four days at the Festival of Beers and Bluesapalooza.

The Foundation site, meanwhile, spent Measure U monies to build a large tent-like structure, which hosted events such as the Mammoth Food & Wine Experience, the Jazz Jubilee, the Mammoth Music Festival and, this weekend, the Sierra Summer Music Festival.

The firm’s final report is due later in the summer or in early autumn.

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