Bigrock Ski Area Seeking Public Support

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SAM Magazine—Mars Hill, Maine, Aug. 6, 2013—The nonprofit Maine Winter Sports Center (MWSC), which has owned the Bigrock Mountain community ski area here since 2000, hopes to turn over the area to the community of Bigrock supporters. MWSC expects the community will fund operations and establish a new non-profit to operate the area, much as has happened with Black Mountain, which MWSC also owned until recently.

"When we bought Bigrock Mountain in 2000, with funding from the Libra Foundation, the intent was to give the mountain a meaningful opportunity at being sustainable for the long term," said Andy Shepard, president and CEO of MWSC. "At that point we envisioned turning the mountain over to a non-profit, community-based ownership. That time has now come.”

Bigrock Mountain, at 980 feet of vertical, is the tallest ski area in northern Maine and the Maritimes. MWSC has invested more than $6 million in improvements, including a dramatically expanded snowmaking system, new beginner/intermediate area with a triple chair, glade park, carpet lift in the ski school park and tubing park.

Similar to Black Mountain, Bigrock adopted a new business model last year, one aimed at making winter sports more accessible. It reduced day tickets to $15 and season passes to $150, significantly expanded seating capacity in the lodge, and added a new retail area and pub.

Season pass sales were up 13 percent, day tickets 18 percent, and rentals 42 percent, with overall revenue up 6 percent, Shepard said. "The mountain still required outside support to remain open last season, but I believe there is a lot of growth potential at Bigrock, with significant opportunities toward creating a stronger connection to the active population in western New Brunswick, Bangor and Aroostook County,” he added.

“I’m confident that in next few days, people will step forward to do what they have to and keep the mountain going. Already, we’ve had some people call to ask what they can do to help. We’ll find out pretty quickly if there’s enough local support,” Shepard told SAM.

To help with that effort, the Bigrock Facebook page will include a “go fund me” link so that interested supporters can join the fundraising effort.