Spirit Mountain Could Stay Closed Through Summer; More Cash Needed To Reopen In Winter

DULUTH, Minn. – The financially strapped Spirit Mountain could very well remain closed through the summer because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.  And Spirit Mountain officials say the only way to open back up this winter is if the cash-strapped city of Duluth hands over $350,000 before winter revenue at the Mountain starts rolling in again.

This information comes from a budget resolution that councilors will take up at the next council meeting on Tuesday, May 26, after Memorial Day.

The resolution says Spirit Mountain considered re-opening July 1 for a reduced summer season but would have needed $200,000 of additional money from the city of Duluth to operate during that time.

The resolution also states that if Spirit Mountain were to remain closed through the upcoming winter season, the city of Duluth would be obligated to pay up to $2.6 million of Spirit Mountain’s outstanding debt, season pass refunds, payroll and accounts payable that it would not be able to pay.

“In addition, the city would retain its current responsibility to finance $500,000 per year in debt service on the Grand Avenue Chalet from tourism taxes. Spirit Mountain has been hit harder than other ski resorts in the United States because it is both government owned and government operated and therefore ineligible for the Paycheck Protection Program that is keeping most resorts afloat this summer,” the Statement of Purpose reads in the resolution.

This all comes as the city of Duluth is facing a budget deficit for 2020 as high as $38 million because of the pandemic and significant loss in tourism tax dollars.

So the big question councilors will be facing is: Where will the money come from to get Spirit Mountain operating this winter?

To read the full resolution, click here.

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