After reading this I'm surpised this day took so long to come. Very sad but business is business and without:
Viability of June Mountain; Mammoth Mountain is carrying financially; need for $20 million on Mountain improvements (first phase); additional skier visits needed 117,000; $20m; 1284 hotel equivalents/ additional beds
I know that is 2006 money but we still have not seen real deflation yet in land values to make up for all this.
That document needs to be thoroughly de-bunked. There is no doubt that June is in need of capital to address a few specific deficiencies, but there are many ways to skin a cat. The specifics of that plan are relevant only if you look through the prism of a pradigm that seems wholly inappropriate for June. Let's take them one by one:
Chair 1 Replacement: $8MM
This implicitly assumes you are going to install some sort of new, extravagant, high-capacity lift out of the base. $8M, especially in 2006 dollars, is well more than you'd need for even the newest HSQ, so were probably budgeting for some sort of Chondola or something of that nature. While J1 clearly needs to be replaced to make the mid-chalet more easily accessible, it is fundamentally false that the only answer is a new detachable lift for $8MM. There are any number of used fixed grip and now detachable lifts available for a small fraction of that $8MM (like 10% of that figure). Any of them would suffice in achieving two critical goals for the J1: 1) increasing capacity out of the base area and 2) making that ride quicker and more comfortable for riders of all ages. While a detatchable lift would be ideal due to the need for downloading based on June's topography, it's certainly not necessary.
Chair 2 replacement: $4MM
Again, the implicit assumption is that J2 needs to be replaced and that the replacement must be a detatchable lift. I'm not sure there's any compelling evidence that J2 needs to be replaced at all, let alone with a detatch. It's not like that lift sees long lines or cries out for a shorter ride time. If J2 needs to be replaced due to mechanical/age issues, then you can once again go with the used lift route. Otherwise, I'd hold off entirely.
Chalet Addition/Renovation: $4.5MM
This is another one I don't quite understand. Why spend $4.5MM on this when there are much more pressing needs like expanding the ticket hut at the base so people have a place to put their boots on? Moreover, why not let customer demand dictate large investments like this instead of a business plan that may or may not be in synch with the realities of June Mtn's market?
Wastewater improvements: $0.4MM
Presumably this is to handle the larger capacity Chalet, but I don't know. If they are compliant at today's discharge levels, I'd like to see the case for the upgrade that is based on actual need instead of some dream projection.
Snowmaking improvements on Ch. 7: $2.0MM
Here's another one I don't understand. Guaranteeing good snow surfaces is definitely important, as this year's season has borne out. That said, why would you spend $2MM to improve the snow surfaces on a part of the mountain that gets the most snowfall and which is skiable by a relatively small segment of the skiing population (experts and upper intermediates)? Wouldn't it make more sense to focus efforts on J2, 3, 4 and 6 which service terrain that everyone can use? Supplement that with coverage of the Canyon Trail and you can offer top-to-bottom coverage even in the leanest of years, even if the resulting terrain is a bit bland.
Fundamentally, Mammoth's plan represents a complete lack of vision in how to run a ski resort. Rusty and Co. have run Mammoth quite well, but that's the only model they know: big, expensive, modern, real-estate driven. As in the rest of the country (see Bridger Bowl, Alta, MRG, Mt. Baker, A-Basin), the Eastern Sierra has the opportunity to offer a successful, low/no frills skiing experience that appeals to a mix of locals and families alike.
Let's face it: June will never be a destination ski resort. There isn't enough room inthe market for that. But it doesn't have to be. There's always going to be a base level of demand from the local communities (June, Lee Vining, Bridgeport etc..) who are lookign for a relatively low cost skii experience. It also has an opportunity to carve out it's niche as a ski area that appeals to families throughout SoCal as a whole. As a father of two young kids, I would like nothing better than the chance to enjoy the Eastern Sierra at a price point (tickets, lodging, food etcc..) that's 30-40% off the typical cost at Mammoth. To further do so in an environment that is not the zoo at Mammoth, and at a resort with a great mix of terrain for learners, all of which comes back to a single base, makes and even stronger case for a new vision at June.
More than a lack of paying customers, June Mtn. has suffered from a chronic lack of leadership and vision. The Rodeo Grounds plan and planned infrastructure upgrade serve only to illustrate that Mammoth/Rusty know only one path to growth . That path has largely been discredited and is anyway completely inappropriate for a mountain with June's location, terrain and assets. It's time for MMSA to step aside and let someone else run June - how can anyone have confidence that the same crew who has done nothing but run the place iunto the ground for the last 25 years will somehow be able to come up with a sustainable plan with an extra year of thought?