After years of financial stress, Spirit Mountain sees profit after busy winter season

After years of financial stress, Spirit Mountain sees profit after busy winter season

Now, a potential light is at the end of the tunnel after a very strong winter season. That wasn’t always the case. Stress started in 2019 when a blizzard canceled the annual SnoCross. Then the pandemic closed the recreation area for most of last summer.

“For the winter season, compared to the last winter season, our gross revenues are up about 17%, and that is great news. We are pretty darn excited about that,” said Ann Glumac, Interim Executive Director at Spirit Mountain. “Right now, Spirit Mountain is making enough money to cover their expenses on a day-to-day basis. They are not making enough to cover the capital investments that the city is helping fund, and that’s what we use the tourism tax allocations for,” said Forsman.

Duluth City Council Vice President Arik Forsman, who was on the city’s Spirit Mountain task force, said he is excited to hear of the progress but said it is not time to declare victory just yet. Before the ski hill turned things around, the tourism tax dollars were just enough to help the hill stay open.

“The pandemic actually helped us in some ways because we had people who got back into skiing for the first time because they wanted to do something outside and do something healthy,” said Glumac. Glumac said things like a conservative budget and the implementation of other city recommendations have helped set them up for success. Strangely enough, the pandemic, which originally hurt them, suddenly started helping.

Now, the money can be used for other things, like upgrades and guest experience. Last year the city council appropriated $475,000 in tourism tax dollars to Spirit Mountain.

It’s a small step in the right direction as they continue to work towards complete financial freedom. “I am really excited to see how their summer season stacks up this year and for them to really get a calendar year under their belt so we can evaluate where their progress is,” said Forsman. While the task force to help Spirit is no more, city leaders will still keep tabs on the hill’s progress.

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