Hotel issues should DQ Jackson
May 9, 2018
Without a doubt, Jackson is the most expensive town in Wyoming.
Hotel rates are high, the cost of a meal is high -- the town is a Mecca for tourists and businesses know it. That alone should not be enough to disqualify the town from hosting either regional or state tournaments. However, a policy amongst hotels used by high schools attending these events should cause officials at the Wyoming High School Activities Association to have second thoughts about using Jackson as a venue for those events, especially as many schools face budget challenges.
Schools going to Jackson for either Regionals or State are required to reserve a block of rooms for the duration of the tournament and are unable to cancel those rooms if their team is knocked out of competition early on. During the winter basketball season, both the Wolves and Lady Wolves lost their first-round games at the regional tournament, but Sweetwater County School District No. 2 was still required to pay for rooms despite the teams not competing either the Friday or Saturday of the tournament. This forces schools into a situation where coaches and administrators decide if the team should leave, resulting in the district paying for unused rooms, or staying and allowing their players to enjoy a day or two on the town, which can accrue additional costs for players and the district.
I don’t doubt this problem isn’t unintentional, as hotels in Jackson can use the town’s popularity and claim high room demand as leverage when districts are reserving rooms for their teams and it’s easy to see school districts as cash cows ready for the milking when a tournament is hosted in Jackson. Those districts provide a guaranteed source of revenue throughout the weekend.
But, as the Wyoming Legislature continues to debate how it should fund schools, expenditures like these would likely be easy targets for legislators seeking ways to cut education spending. Districts being forced into reserving a block of rooms and having no way of canceling those reservations for unused days would be a banner fiscal conservatives could easily rally behind.
When the WHSAA meets, representatives should demand hotels in Jackson allow districts to cancel rooms if they’re eliminated from tournament play. If those hotels don’t budge, the should look beyond Jackson for hosts.