Time’s running out; Saddleback, Maine in dire need of financial help

Time’s running out; Saddleback, Maine in dire need of financial help

Saddleback, Maine is facing a frightening reality this summer. The ski area, located in Rangeley, Maine, is facing a potential forced closure for 2015-16 operation, unless it can secure $3 million to purchase a new four-person chairlift by the end of August.

For the past 51 years, Saddleback skiers have accessed the resort via a lengthy two-person lift (among other chairlifts). Reports suggest that the seasoned lift is more of a financial burden than a piece of vintage memorabilia, proving to be extremely costly to maintain and damaging to the customer experience, due to strained lift capacity—less laps, less value. Enough so, that the ski area is seeking financial help on short notice in order to feasibly operate next season.

“In order for Saddleback to be sustainable for the long-term, we’ve decided the lift must be replaced,” said Mark Berry, owner of Saddleback, Maine in a recent Facebook post and press release. “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.”

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Longtime Mainers, Bill and Irene Berry, have owned and operated Saddleback since for more than a decade and have been seeking financial help to provide updated lift access in recent years. The historic East Coast mountain not only holds a special place in the Berry’s hearts, but is also a fairly significant force in rural Maine’s economy, employing nearly three-hundred people and providing affordable skiing for local families living and tourists traveling to “Vacationland.” Since acquiring the ski area, the family has invested loads of funding into the mountain, including: a new lodge, two four-person chairlifts, multiple trails and updated snowmaking. Currently, the Berry family is awaiting a response from multiple possible lenders.

Saddleback has informed its year-round employees of the harsh potential changes and has guaranteed that all 2015-16 season pass holders will be reimbursed in full if the worst case scenario becomes a reality.

As a proud Maine native and a loyal member of the ski industry, this particular subject hits extremely close to home for me (literally). So I ask, alongside Saddleback, that if anyone can recommend a reasonable solution for the ski area to obtain financing for a new chairlift as quickly as possible, feel free to reach out via email, or call Saddleback directly at (866) 918-2225.

For an interesting take on the matter, see what our friends at Ski The East are saying.

Related: Support your local mountain; Mt. Ashland launches $650,000 fundraiser

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