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Spirit Mountain Needs $235K from City to Keep Hills Open

Baihly Warfield
Updated: December 11, 2019 11:38 AM

Spirit Mountain says it needs $235,000 from the City of Duluth in order to keep the hills open beyond next Friday. 

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Executive Director Brandy Ream told city councilors that Spirit Mountain lost $235,000 in revenue when the Amsoil Snocross races had to be canceled during the blizzard. 

"The driver visibility, we're not going to put racers out there on sleds flying through the air, that's an unsafe condition for them. But it also has a tremendous impact on our finances here at Spirit Mountain," Ream said at a press conference Friday afternoon. "So the $235,000 is reflective of the ticket and food and beverage revenue loss that we normally would have had during that time."

Ream said when she saw the Blizzard Warning issued, "My first immediate thought was this is going to be the demise of Spirit Mountain."

According to Ream, if the City Council does not approve the $235,000, they will make payroll next Friday, "then we are locking the doors." She said Spirit Mountain would also have to figure out how to pay back $1.2 million of season pass revenue and thousands of dollars of employees' accrued vacation time. 

However, at a press conference Friday, Ream adamantly declared, "We are not closing Spirit Mountain." 

Wayne Parsons, Duluth's Chief Financial Officer, said there is about $500,000 in undesignated tourism tax funds. He also expects a small surplus when they close the 2019 books on Feb. 1. 

Spirit Mountain has had to ask for money from the city before, but Ream said that should be expected.

“Spirit Mountain was created by the legislature in 1974. If you go back and look at that, it has two key components. Not only are we a recreation area to have something for our local community to enjoy in the long winters, but it’s also a tourism driver," she said. "Spirit Mountain was never created to be completely self-funded and running as a private facility without that assistance and the help from the City of Duluth.”

The Duluth City Council will vote on the request at its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday night.

Credits

Baihly Warfield

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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