Owners of Saddleback ski area have two weeks to find $3 million for the purchase of a new four-person chairlift or the resort will not open for the winter season.
In a press release sent out this morning, the Berry family, who purchased the Maine resort in 2003, said the much-needed addition will replace the aging 51-year-old Rangeley double chair. One of four lifts on the mountain, it provides the main access from the base lodge to the top of the mountain.
“In order for Saddleback to be sustainable for the long-term, we’ve decided the lift must be replaced,” said owner Mark Berry. “For the last several months, we’ve been actively seeking the necessary financing to replace the chairlift, however time is running out. We only have a few weeks to make this work. In order to open this winter, we need to order the new lift by early August.”
The release stated all 300 employees have been informed of potential changes in winter operations and has guaranteed that all season pass holders will be reimbursed.
Saddleback Mountain is located in the Rangeley Lakes Region of Western Maine, near the Portland and Bangor airports. With 2,000 feet of vertical, the resort includes 220 skiable acres and reports an average annual snowfall of 225 inches. Under the Berry family's ownership, improvements include a new base lodge, the installation of two new quad chairlifts, the addition of many new trails, expanded snowmaking and glade skiing.
"This is certainly not where we hoped to be given our success in growing this mountain. It is our sincere hope that the funding will come through in time to purchase the new lift and have it operational for this year’s ski season. We are now calling on those who treasure what Saddleback is to the people of Maine to help us find a solution,” the family said.
Saddleback also announced the news on their Facebook page today, adding they are waiting for approval from three different lenders. The post asked for recommendations for obtaining short-order financing to which many commenters suggested using crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter or GoFundMe.