MOUNTAIN VILLAGE – The Town of Mountain Village and the Telluride Ski and Golf Co. are competing against Park City, Utah and Steamboat Springs, Colo. to attract a 500-student preparatory school, which would be located in Mountain Village.
The envisioned prep school is slated to be a winter sports-oriented campus of the Next Level Institute Springbok International School and Sports Academy (NLI-Springbok).
NLI-Springbok first approached Mountain Village about the school, to be called the NLI-Springbok Winter Sports Academy and College Preparatory School, earlier this year. School representatives have held discussions with with town officials to identify potential sites for the campus, which would include an academic and administrative center, a dormitory and a recreation facility.
If built, the entire campus would be paid for by NLI-Springbok and home to one of the best recreation facilities in Colorado, according to Eric Wells, director of Colorado development and operations for NLI-Springbok.
The envisioned recreation facility, long a dream of Telluride and Mountain Village residents, would house an ice rink, indoor tennis and basketball courts, a track-and-field area, indoor and outdoor grass fields, aquatic center, a climbing wall and a bowling alley. Early estimates for the recreation facility indicate a $40 million price tag.
While the recreation facility would be owned and operated by the school, it would be open to the public through an assortment of annual, weekly and day passes.
“Think of that,” said Mountain Village Mayor Dan Jansen. “We would have even better facilities for our kids. Our soccer players could practice year-round, our track team would have a competition-quality training venue, our swimmers would have an Olympic pool indoors, our winter sports athletes would have world class year round training venues.
“This is all private money NLI is raising. There would be no public money included in building or maintaining this world-class facility. From where it stands now, this facility would offer multiple public benefits.”
In addition to the aforementioned facility features, Wells said, “NIL-Springbok hopes to construct a year-round extreme sports training facility like the Woodward facility at Copper Mountain.”
The Woodward facility at Copper Mountain helps skiers and snowboarders maintain year-round physical prowess by allowing athletes to practice in a controlled indoor environment. Copper’s Woodward frequently attracts ski and snowboarding teams from across the country during the off-season, including members of the Telluride Ski and Snowboard Club, which will be headed to the indoor facility in November.
“Our TSSC athletes drive across the state looking to find world-class facilities to work on their training. We’re going to be able to do that in our town. Forget about you and me driving long distances to spend money somewhere else, because people are going to come here to use these facilities,” Jansen said.
Jansen, along with Wells, see the campus as an economic engine that could help the Mountain Village and Telluride avoid stagnant off-season economic lulls that bookend Telluride’s relatively short ski season. Early estimates say the school would create 75 full-time jobs and could potentially generate $30 million in economic activity on an annual basis.
“Conservative estimates say 50,000 to 60,000 visitors would visit the recreation center per year,” said Wells, adding that while similar recreation facilities in Breckenridge and Aspen attract more visitors annually, the increase in visitors to Telluride and Mountain Village would be a fairly consistent source of much-needed revenue for the cash-strapped local and county governments and businesses.
The influx in students would also attract families, who may be interested in purchasing a home, possibly spurring the local real estate market, Jansen said.
Michael Martelon, president and CEO Telluride Tourism Board, echoes Jansen’s and Wells’s assessment of the probable benefits of the sought-after campus.
In terms of the impact a new academy would have on Telluride’s international resort-destination marketing efforts, Martelon said, “Initial estimates put the international segment of the student body in the 25 percent range. Ultimately, that means 375 domestic and 125 international ambassadors of the region; add to that, the family and friends of those students and our word-of-mouth marketing starts to see some traction.
“There is simply no stronger marketing than word-of-mouth. An academy of this sort can be a major game-changer for our destination and a tremendous boost for our marketing resources.”