STUDY: Probability of Lost New England Ski Areas Reopening
Woodbury, Saddleback, and the Balsams are up against increasing odds of staying closed.
Wednesday, November 7, 2018, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com
With the 2017-18 season here, a study (2014, 2017) on the probability of lost ski areas reopening has been revisited. While the recent resurgence of Ascutney, Plymouth Notch, and Tenney has helped to bolster the numbers, the probability of shuttered ski areas reopening remains grim.
The population surveyed was ski areas in New England that featured at least one chairlift or gondola and were closed for ski operations for one or more seasons. Of the sixty-eight closures of a season or more, thirty-six were (to date) permanent.
According to the study, after one season of closure, ski areas have 46% chance of reopening (up from 41% in 2014). The probability drops to 35% if the closure exceeds one season. Following a half decade of closure, the probability of reopening is only 20%. Following a decade of closure, the probability of reopening plummets to 10%.
Prominent Areas Closed During 2017-18:
Blandford - Closed for 1 Season - 46% Chance of Reopening
While the owner of Ski Butternut was able to rescue the Ski Blandford from insolvency during the summer of 2017, the deferred maintenance was too extensive to allow for a winter 2017-18 opening. Work continued at the historic Western Massachusetts area throughout 2018, and more recently a kick off party was held. Two of the three chairlifts are expected to operate this winter, with the North Chair needing additional repairs.
Snow's Mountain - Closed for 1 Season - 46% Chance of Reopening
Not a defunct ski area in the traditional sense, Snow's Mountain in Waterville Valley operates for mountain bikers in the warmer months. Closed as a regular ski area since the mid 1990s, Snow's Mountain has been open to season pass holders for skiing one day in February 2015 and again in February 2017.
Woodbury - Closed for 2 Seasons - 35% Chance of Reopening
Closed during the 2016-17 season due drought conditions, the small Connecticut ski area made initial preparations to reopen for the 2017-18 season while searching for a buyer. However, the area was unable to reopen and has since cancelled 2018 summer operations. A request for status updates has not been returned.
Saddleback - Closed for 3 Seasons - 31% Chance of Reopening
Last in operation in 2015, Saddleback was to be sold to the Majella Group. Majella announced on September 18, 2017 that it was "committed to opening in some capacity for the 2017-18 ski season." However, NBC Portland reported in November 2017 that "the money isn't there." Since then, there no updates have been posted on the Saddleback Facebook page. Meanwhile, the CEO of Majella was arrested in Australia for alleged fraud.
Balsams - Closed for 7 Seasons - 16% Chance of Reopening
Last in operation in 2011, proposals have been brought forward to reopen the area as early as the 2013-14 season. While progress has been announced in permitting and financing, a groundbreaking has yet to take place. The developers are still attempting to line up financing.
Maple Valley - Closed for 18 Seasons - 5% Chance of Reopening
Closed since 2000, Maple Valley was finally sold this May for $745,000. The new ownership, named Sugar Mountain Holdings, plans to open a brewery and distillery before the end of the decade. Though skiing at the overgrown, antiquated area is not an immediate plan, it could be a possibility in about ten years time.
Areas on the Bubble:
The southwestern New Hampshire ski area is not currently advertising alpine skiing for the 2018-19 season, instead choosing to focus on tubing and cross country skiing.
The private southern Vermont resort is currently in receivership, lacking the funding to prepare for or operate during the 2018-19 season.