Steamboat Seeks To Take Over Operation of Howelson Hill
It is the intent of the City of Steamboat Springs to enter into a contract with a qualified individual or management firm to provider operations and management services of the City-owned Howelsen Hill Ski Area beginning with the 2017 - 2018 ski season. The City seeks a turn-key solution that will maximize revenues and minimize expenses.
City contracts analyst Shelly St. Pierre said she has never seen the city send out a request for proposals as complex and unique as the one seeking bidders for Howelsen operations.
“The size of the facility and the partnership with the Winter Sports Club makes it unique, and just the fact that it is a historical piece of Steamboat,” she said. “It’s definitely not your typical request for proposals. There’s going to be a lot of evaluation on this.”
After initial interest from four groups the last man standing is Steamboat Springs Ski area. The resort thinks it will be able to make Howelsen Hill Ski Area less of a money pit and more of an attraction.
Howelsen Hill Ski Area is a small ski area located on Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. As such, it is not a typical alpine ski area, as it includes a series of ski jumps, the largest at 114 metres.
The ski area has produced over 70 Olympians in both alpine and Nordic events. With a vertical drop of 134 metres (440 ft), it has one chairlift, two carpets, and one Poma lift.The local youth ski team, the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, practices at the area, along with various ski jumpers in training, including U.S. Ski Team Jumpers.
Construction of the first ski jump on Howelsen Hill began in the summer of 1914. The jump was completed and the area was open for recreation in time for the second annual Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Carnival that was held in 1914.This is the oldest continuously operating ski area in Colorado. On an area once known as Elk Park, a former small game preserve, it was renamed in 1917 for Carl Howelsen, a Norwegian immigrant who established it. The alpine area was established in 1931.
Howelsen Hill Ski Area has sent more skiers to international competition than any other area in North America. It is the oldest ski area in continuous use in Colorado, and has the largest and most complete natural ski jumping complex in North America. Howelsen has been the training ground for more than 79 Olympians making over 130 Winter Olympic appearances, 15 members of the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame, and 6 members of the National Ski Hall of fame. Howelsen Hill is open to the public and is owned and operated by the City of Steamboat Springs Parks, Open Space and Recreation Department.
"We want to try and grow it and make it more profitable and turn it into a more viable operation for the city and for us," Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. President Rob Perlman said. "We are excited to explore the opportunity and to work with the city and the Winter Sports Club to see if we can make it a solution for everybody."
The resort has lodged a brief proposal here
The proposal suggests a 75/25 percent split, with the larger portion of those savings going to the ski resort.
Winter Sports Club Executive Director Jim Boyne said "In our opinion, they are the obvious solution if an agreement can be struck…..With all the expertise they have right here in town, to have them not respond would have been disappointing to all of us. We're thrilled."
As to how the area might become more profitable, in addition to concession operations at the city's rodeo grounds, ballfields and Olympian Hall. Perlman said that access is key to improving Howelsen's profitability.
"If you're going to be profitable, it needs to be accessible to the public……Sure, it can still be a training facility, but so is All Out, and so is the ski area we already operate. We definitely feel there needs to be additional public use of Howelsen to make it truly viable for the city, and for us."
As to why Steamboat Ski Area would be interested in running Howelsen Perlman said "We recognize Howelsen's importance to our community……The ski area has been around for more than 100 years. It's a part of who we are as a community, and our skiing heritage."