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For Bogus Basin, the ‘other shoe’ never dropped

In 1998 when Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area made the announcement it was going to lower the price of a season pass to $199 – and guests could purchase it in March, ski or snowboard on the new pass the rest of the current season and all of the next season – eyes rolled.

The industry waited – waited for that other shoe to drop.

My own father, who has been in the ski business forever, asked me, “What happens when they all show up at the same time?” That was his comeback to me after I was bragging on the fact that Bogus sold more than 19,000 passes out-of-the-chute. Prior to that, Bogus Basin issued about 3,500 season passes annually. Still a respectable number.

Today, with our $199 season pass sale behind us, Bogus Basin is poised to process and issue more than 24,500 season passes in the next couple months. Bogus Basin and its users make up one of the most unique relationships in the ski business. During the 2009-10 season, more than 28,000 guests held season passes.

Our general manager, Mike Shirley, says the down economy can sometimes work in our favor. He says we are in a good, sustainable position. Are we making money “hand-over-fist?” No. But we are holding our own.

With more than 20 percent of the residents in the Treasure Valley claiming they are skiers or snowboarders, Boise (and the surrounding area) is truly a “ski town.” With tightened budgets, destination ski trips aren’t necessarily on the top of the list. As a result, local communities support their local hills in lean times. Our economy is keeping people closer to home.

The other favorable aspect of Bogus Basin’s situation is that the recreation area is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization. It’s a true community treasure. There are no private investors. No fat cat at the top wanting dividends. If there is any money left over at the end of paying all the bills, it goes back into making Bogus Basin a better place to recreate.

Conversely, numerous big, destination resorts have struggled as of late. Many have their livelihoods tied to real estate, and we all know how that has performed during the past 36 months.

Bogus Basin is considered by many as their “backyard” winter recreation. As the valley population grows and our skier visits increase, Bogus will be obligated to expand and improve its capacity. This winter you’ll notice general maintenance improvements around the mountain and other improvements to our facilities and infrastructure that aren’t that apparent – but keep us in business.

We are pleased to announce the installation of a brand new moving carpet on our beginner hill. The FUNDSY Mover is twice as long, at 400 feet, as our current moving carpet, The Easy Rider. This addition will help ease overcrowding on busy weekends. Some day in the near future we’ll talk new chairlifts, lodge improvements and increased parking capacity. Currently there are 3,000 spaces on the mountain. Let’s hear it for carpooling …

At Bogus, as we busy ourselves with issuing season passes, I’ll tell you that “shoe” never dropped. We have offered a discounted pass sale every season since. We’ve had some busy days, but nothing the capable Bogus Basin staff couldn’t handle. And, as I explained to my witty father, “Our guests won’t all show up at the same time. … There isn’t enough parking.”

This article was written by Gretchen Anderson, who handles media relations for Bogus Basin and is the author of an upcoming book on the backyard chicken movement.

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