March 28, 1998 in Idaho

Needing A Mountain Of Cash To Ski Is Totally Bogus

Betsy Z. Russell Staff Writer
 

All the fuss in the Legislature may have been about abortion, heavy trucks and the like, but the talk of the town in Boise this spring is cheap season ski passes at Bogus Basin.

Operators of Boise’s nonprofit local ski resort think they’ve found a way to disconnect ski revenue from the weather. It’s a move that’s drawing attention from similarly situated ski resorts across the country and a huge response from Boiseans.

This year, an adult season pass at Bogus Basin cost $550, or $450 if it was bought last June. The resort sold a disappointing 3,500 - down from the usual 5,000 to 6,000.

But now, Bogus is offering a new season pass for $199, with a children’s version for just $29. And those who buy them now not only get to ski all next season, they also get spring skiing this year thrown in.

“Right now, we have sold over 11,000 of these,” Mike Shirley, general manager, said. “At the adult price, we’ve sold over 9,000. So the plan is working.”

Shirley crows that the money flowing in is “weatherproof revenue.” That’s a ski operator’s dream.

Bogus suffered this year because of a slow start, and rumors that the El Nino weather phenomenon would mean little snow. Actually, the Boise ski hill ended up with a huge snowpack, even after several days of rain this past week.

But Boiseans also have more and more activities that compete with skiing, Shirley said, from ice hockey and basketball to soccer and baseball. Surveys showed that most Boise skiers wanted to hit the mountain six to 10 times a year, and that wasn’t enough to make a season pass cost-effective.

Then, when faced with the prospect of buying a $31 lift ticket, skiers tended to opt out if there was anything bad about the weather.

Bogus Basin is in a unique circumstance because it has a ton of skiing terrain - more than 3,000 acres - and the chairlifts have a 5,000-skier capacity.

“We’ve got a lot of capacity, and we’ve got a growing population down here, many of whom were feeling that they were not able to afford to ski any more,” Shirley said. “I just thought we could arrange a better marriage between those two dimensions.”

Bogus Basin isn’t after destination resort status or world fame. “Our main mission is providing a good ski experience to this population.”

They’re busting out all over

Last week saw a first at the Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey south of Boise: two rare and endangered birds hatched on the same day.

William Burnham, Peregrine Fund president, said, “We’ve done a lot over the past 28 years, but this is the first time we have hatched a Harpy Eagle and California Condor on the same day. We look forward to returning these rare birds to the wild later this year.”

It was the fifth Harpy chick hatched at the Boise center, and the third California Condor to hatch outside of California since the 1930s.

Don’t tell the Potato Commission

The state Department of Commerce is pretty pleased that more than 275 ski journalists from the United States and Canada will have their annual convention at Sun Valley next week. Among the group’s convention activities is a welcome home party for Idaho’s Olympians.

“We may be famous for potatoes, but communities like Sun Valley and McCall have proven to be exceptional training grounds for Olympic athletes,” said Carl Wilgus, state tourism director.

, DataTimes MEMO: North-South Notes runs every other Saturday. To reach Betsy Z. Russell, call 336-2854, fax to 336-0021 or e-mail to bzrussell@rmci.net.

This sidebar appeared with the story:

BARGAIN ON THE SLOPES

This year, an adult season pass at Bogus Basin cost $550, or $450 if it was bought last June. The resort sold 3,500, down from the usual 5,000 to 6,000. The new season pass costs $199, with a children’s version for $29. Bogus has sold 9,000 at the new adult price.

North-South Notes runs every other Saturday. To reach Betsy Z. Russell, call 336-2854, fax to 336-0021 or e-mail to bzrussell@rmci.net.

This sidebar appeared with the story: BARGAIN ON THE SLOPES This year, an adult season pass at Bogus Basin cost $550, or $450 if it was bought last June. The resort sold 3,500, down from the usual 5,000 to 6,000. The new season pass costs $199, with a children’s version for $29. Bogus has sold 9,000 at the new adult price.

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