Cripple Creek Hits Jackpot with Ice Castles, Ice Fest and Chamonix Opening

Public Meeting Set for April 24

Rick Langenberg

Cripple Creek officials are declaring the Ice Castles attraction and Ice Fest celebration as a big winner for local casinos and the community.

Plus, they see the opening of the Chamonix casino and hotel as another added jackpot strike for the city.

At a council meeting earlier this month, City Finance Director Paul Harris stated that the most recent revenue report, issued by the state, indicated that again the town experienced a healthy spike in gaming activity. More specifically, the town’s adjusted gross proceeds, amounting to the wins recorded by local casinos, generated a hefty 5 percent-plus increase, compared to the same period a year ago.

In addition, he said industry’s coin-in figures, which amount to overall betting activity, are showing positive gains.  With the new surge in numbers, Harris said the town’s overall market share within the Colorado limited stakes arena will improve, a development that ultimately could lead to more tax dollars.

Plus, lodging tax revenue has taken a big upward surge, according to preliminary statistics.

Harris attributed this rise in revenue to the Ice Castles attraction, which shut down in early March, coupled with the recent several-week Ice Fest event and the opening of the Chamonix casino and hotel. “We are seeing a big positive impact,” said Harris.

The Ice Fest, though, didn’t quite attract as many visitors as a year ago, according to special projects director Jeff Mosher. But he cautioned that 2023 is not a good comparison model, as much anticipation occurred then due to the revival of the festival after a several-year absence.

Some concerns, though, were raised by business operators on the east side of Bennett Avenue, who found access to their shops quite difficult. Edie Smith, owner of the Creations Everlasting shop, stated that their business experienced a 60-percent plunge in sales during the event, and shared her concerns with the city council.

Following her presentation, a few elected leaders stated that they plan to review the Ice Fest street closure situation in more detail for next year’s festival.

But when it comes to the subject of Ice Castles,  all local business operators have signaled the thumps-up, with virtually no complaints. In fact, the attraction also served as a boon for a number of eateries in Divide and Woodland Park.

“It was really good for the entire region,” related Harris.

Later this month, town leaders plan to have a public, citizens meeting regarding the situation with Ice Castles. Officials from Ice Castles are expected to attend and answer questions from the public. The meeting has been tentatively scheduled for the evening of April 24 at the Butte Theater.

Ultimately, city officials would like to work out a multi-year deal with the Utah-based company that only does this winter wonderland attraction in a handful of communities.

Reaction to Ice Castles was quite positive by local officials and the company executives.

New Finance Chief
In other city news, Harris introduced Monet Edwards to the council. She will assume the post as the new finance director for Cripple Creek within the next two months.

Harris plans to retire from this post, a position has held for several decades, in early June. Harris, in fact, has been the longest-serving department head in Cripple Creek.

At a recent council meeting, Harris lauded his new replacement.  Edwards, in fact, has much experience in the casino industry, working in the accounting and finance arena for Cripple Creek gaming establishments for 20-plus years. Harris mentioned this as a big plus for her role as the new city finance director. In addition, she most recently worked with the finance department for the city of Woodland Park.

Harris told the council that Edwards will be undergoing much day-to-day training for his position for the next month and a half