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January 01, 2007

Congratulations are in Order for the WMA, Hopis, and Sierra Club

The Arizona Republic has an article about the state of affairs at Snowbowl:

For the seventh time in the past decade, the nearby Arizona Snowbowl wasn't open for that all-important week between Christmas and New Year's Day, normally accounting for one-third of a ski area's business for the year.

In six of the past eight years, the ski season hasn't been long enough to attract even 100,000 skiers, while the historic average in the late 1990s had been 125,000 skiers annually.

In three of those seasons, Snowbowl had 35,000 skiers or fewer. The 2001-02 season was only four days long.

But the hits just keep on coming for Sunrise, the Hopi Tribe, and the Sierra Club:

In a normal snow year, the Snowbowl has about a $10.5 million direct impact on Flagstaff's economy and $20 million indirect impact, according to studies by the Snowbowl and Flagstaff consultants. About 70 percent of the area's skiers come from outside Flagstaff, most from the Valley.

A recent study by Gary Vallen Hospitality Consultants of Flagstaff concluded that the Snowbowl would attract a minimum of 200,000 skiers each season if it had snowmaking capacity that could guarantee a consistent season from Thanksgiving to April 1. Snowmaking ability also would add an average of $6.3 million annually to the local economy, according to the Vallen study.

But ain't Karma a bitch for the Apaches and Snowbowl:

Ski area manager Bill London said that Sunrise hasn't been able to get loans of about $11 million for new snowmaking equipment and to acquire rights for a larger reservoir of water.

London said that Sunrise has had seasons in the past where it has had as many as 140,000 skiers but still finished in the red.

"The way it is now, our snowmaking equipment only covers about 10 percent of our total ski area terrain, so that's having a limited impact on our operations," London said. "If we had new equipment, we would be able to cover about 35 percent of our area with artificial snow."

So snowmaking is essential to Sunrise's operation, but they cannot get anyone to give them a loan. They are in the red. Guess the WMA tribe will have to use some of the money that they steal from Blue Haired old grandmas to keep their area afloat. Funny, but Snowbowl can afford snowmaking equipment and doesn't have the deep casino pockets to keep them in business. They have to have snowmaking or they cannot keep floating the ski area with an outside financial source. It is a bad investment to keep pumping money into a business that cannot be expected to be profitable.

Hmmm. I had this idea for Sunrise. Try this on for size--Snowbowl gets as many as 125,000 skier visits, 70% of which are from Phoenix. If Sunrise can get Snowbowl to close, they would capture at least a large portion of those skier visits and probably be profitable, even in a bad year. If estimates are correct, that 125,000 number may be more like 200,000. Then Sunrise could show a large enough profit to get their loan to make more snow and attract even more skier visits. Leading to even more profits. Wow. That Bachelor's Degree in Business from ASU finally pays off. Or maybe not. Even the WMA tribe is smart enough to come up with this business plan.

Well, news for Sunrise--I ain't gonna be a skier visit ever again or deal with their rude WMA tribe members that work the resort, stay in their trashy hotel, or spend money at their casinos. They are trying to hose Snowbowl by using some lame "Religious Freedom" excuse to shut down snowmaking on the precious San Francisco Peaks. Instead of pumping WMA tribe money into fixing their 30 year old facilities and improving conditions, they instead spend it on legal challenges to shut down their competition.

And who gets screwed in this whole deal? Why, the people of Phoenix, Tucson, and so forth that would rather shave two hours each way off of their drive and save the gas money they would spend going to Sunrise by going to Flag which is much closer. Better yet, Snowbowl has a more friendly and helpful staff made up mostly of college kids that actually do ski or ride unlike the WMA tribe members that run the resort at Sunrise. They understand skiing and care about the sport unlike the tribe at Sunrise, most of whom are simply there because in the winter they cannot start fires to provide work like they did in 2002 by starting the Rodeo-Chediski fires:

The Rodeo-Chediski fire was a wildfire that burned in east-central Arizona beginning on June 18, 2002, and was not controlled until July 7. It was the worst forest fire in Arizona to date, consuming 467,066 acres (1,890.15 km²) of woodland. Several local communities, including Show Low, Pinetop-Lakeside, and Heber-Overgaard, were threatened and had to be evacuated.

Initially there were two separate fires. The first fire, the Rodeo fire, was reported on the afternoon of June 18 near the Rodeo Fairgrounds on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. An arsonist was arrested on June 29 and was later charged. By early evening, despite the efforts of firecrews, around 1,200 acres (5 km²) were ablaze. Increasing wind speeds fed the fire to over 2,000 acres (8 km²) by the following morning, and when wind speeds increased to around 25 mph (40 km/h) the fire grew rapidly — increasing fourfold over the next three hours.

The arsonist, who received a 10-year prison sentence in March 2004, was Leonard Gregg, a Cibecue resident who worked as a seasonal firefighter for the tribal fire department. He told investigators he had set two fires that morning (the first was quickly put out) in hopes of getting hired by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs for a quick-response fire crew. Gregg had previously worked as a BIA fire crew member, and was indeed among the first to be called in to fight the Rodeo Fire.

There is plenty of money and people for everyone. The WMA Tribe does not need to burn my state down to find work. Phoenix is the sixth largest metropolitan area in the country. Counting Tucson and Phoenix, that is almost 4.5M people. But the Hopis, Sierra Club, and WMA tribe want us to ski at Sunrise or not ski at all. They are not our friends. They don't care about skiers at Sunrise. Sure, Sunrise has some good folks from Eagar and Pinetop, etc., that work at the resort, but the place is owned and ultimately run by the WMA tribe. Their motivations are not about running a great ski resort, but rather about finding another way to take money from the White Folks. Casinos just aren't enough. So they have thrown their hat in the ring with the Sierra Club that was equally to blame for the fires in 2002. They sure care about Arizona, don't they? They sure care about skiers too.

Posted by Justin at January 1, 2007 01:05 PM