By Connor W. Davis
The folks at Saddleback ski area in Rangeley, Maine announced that unless the resort receives $3 million to fund a new lift, it won’t open for the 2015-16 ski season.
The resort’s General Manager Chris Farmer says the push for a new lift, which would replace the 1964-built Rangeley Double Chair, is crucial to the mountain’s future. However, Farmer says the current chair is still safe and fully operational—just not the most ideal ride to the top.
“We’re a victim of our own success,” he says. “Our days are too busy, and there’s not enough capacity to get skiers out of the base area and up the mountain. For the sake of the long-term sustainability of this resort, we need to replace that lift.”
Farmer says his team has been in recent conversations with two or three lenders, but Saddleback also wants to let customers know that the resort needs help, and, hopefully, secure the needed funding.
“We have a great following for Saddleback and thought that everyone needed to know what we’re up against,” he says. “We’ve always worked from a transparency standpoint, and that’s why we did what we did."
Crowdfunding (through sites such as Kickstarter) was considered as an option, but Farmer says there are limitations as to what they can raise, and, as of July 20, the owners haven’t approved that financing method.
“It’s possible that someone from the sidelines is going to step up and offer a solution,” the general manager says. “I’ve had a lot of calls [Monday] from people who are even interested in purchasing the whole resort.”
Farmer says selling the resort is a viable option, and that the Berry family, who currently owns it, is open to that.
Regardless of where the funding comes from, he’s optimistic that the resort will open this fall—especially after an influx of positive social media responses and calls from Saddleback customers.
“I feel pretty good after how things have gone today,” Farmer says. “We’ve had more interest than we’ve had in recent months. We’re all here because we believe in this. It’s a special place to us, and we’re doing everything we can to make it happen.”