A New Jersey development brings skiing to summer.
Coleridge didn't have bowling and indoor skiing in mind when he wrote of Xanadu, but that's apparently how New Jersey defines heaven on earth. Meadowlands Xanadu, a $2 billion complex that will house North America's first indoor ski slope — along with nightclubs, a Lego Land, and possibly a Minor League Baseball stadium — is slated to open sometime in 2008.
The 150-foot-wide, 780-foot-long slope seems like an ideal way for East Coasters to stay loose during summer. But not everyone's sold on the idea, including Judith Hirsch, a Queens, New York, resident who this summer visited Ski Dubai, one of the world's first ski domes. Hirsch paid $50 for two hours and reports that she quickly wearied of the two-minute runs. "I couldn't wait to get out of there.
That's not dissuading Xanadu's investors, who declined interview requests but have claimed the project will create at least 20,000 jobs and add $133 million to the region's tax base. The project has earned the backing of former New Jersey Governor James McGreevey, who has called it a "model for smart growth.
Regardless, the megaplex has rankled local environmentalists. Jeff Tittel of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club, one of several organizations that tried to halt construction in 2004, said the development is going to be "a major global-warming generator, drawing up to 100,000 cars a day to an already congested area and using massive amounts of energy to create snow in July.
Nevertheless, the most obvious counterpoint is the strongest. "You can't replace the great outdoors, says Hirsh.