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What Aspen Skiing buying Mammoth, Big Bear resorts means for SoCal skiers

by Ben Bergman | AirTalk®

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Mikaela Shiffrin of the USA skis the first run of the women's slalom at the Nature Valley Aspen Winternational Audi FIS Ski World Cup at Aspen Mountain on November 25, 2012 in Aspen, Colorado. Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

With the news that Colorado-based Aspen Skiing Company is buying the company that runs four of California’s most popular ski resorts, skiers are wondering what the consolidation means for them.

Under the deal signed this week, Aspen Skiing Company and private equity firm KSL Capital Partners are buying Mammoth Resorts, which operates Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain and which took over both Bear Mountain and Snow Summit in the San Bernardino Mountain town of Big Bear in 2014.

Proponents of the deal are excited for what they anticipate will be a boon for local real estate and tourism. But others worry what the consolidation will mean for the price of lift tickets, lodging and food.

Aspen Skiing Company and its private-equity partners will most likely invest heavily in Mammoth resorts, according to Andrew Alvarez, who tracks the ski industry for IBIS World.
 
“I think it plays into their best interest to have updated facilities and more opportunities for consumers to spend more time at the mountain,” Alvarez said.
 
Skiers can expect more lifts, more lodges and more snowmaking equipment — but the catch, of course, is that someone has to pay for all that.

Alvarez said lift tickets for casual skiers will get even pricier than they are now. A one-day pass at Mammoth this weekend will set you back more than $152.
 
“It’s an exorbitant expense for everyday travelers,” Alvarez said.
 
Higher prices for one-day tickets is part of ski companies’ strategy to get customers to spend more days on the mountain, Alvarez said. As the cost of single-day tickets rises, the resorts are offering season passes that are not only cheaper, but good at more resorts.
 
Industrywide, ski resorts make a profit of 8.1 percent, according to IBISWorld. Bigger companies are more profitable, which helps explain this week’s acquisition.

Guests:

Hugo Martin, business writer for the  Los Angeles Times who’s been covering this story

Ben Bergman, KPCC senior reporter on the Southern California economy

This story has been updated.

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