While ski-resort giants like Vail Resorts are rapidly buying up ski areas across the globe, at least one group is attempting an alternative route to ownership: crowdfunding.
“OneReno actually started about six weeks ago because our founder, Govind Davis, discovered that Mount Rose Ski Tahoe is for sale and has been for some time,” Ben Gaul, the marketing manager for OneReno, told GrindTV Monday.
“Recognizing we don’t want the larger corporate entities to come in and buy it and turn it into something very corporate, we decided to start this push.”
Mount Rose Ski Tahoe has been principally owned since 1971 by Fritz Buser, now 95.
In that time, Gaul said, it has maintained the feeling of a family-owned business, eschewing the more upscale facilities showcased at nearby ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe area in favor of a more modest, friendly environment.
With certain mountain towns across the country rebelling against the influx of larger corporations, Gaul said OneReno started as a way to keep Mount Rose from changing too much.
“Community-wise, there’s a lot of heritage and history involved in that mountain,” said Gaul. “It’s the closest resort to Reno, it has the highest base elevation of nearby mountains and a lot of people will head there instead of some of the bigger resorts in Lake Tahoe because they like the feeling at the mountain.”
So, using OneReno to test the community’s interest in helping a local push to buy the resort, Davis and Gaul have begun reaching out to potential investors.
The response, according to Gaul, has been staggering.
“There’s enough money around Reno and Tahoe to buy it,” said Gaul. “And so we’ve been telling people, ‘If you contribute to this campaign, you can say you own a piece of a mountain.’
“It’s been taking off bigger and faster than anything I ever have been attached to.”
Gaul said content posted by the Facebook group OneReno has attracted tens of thousands of supporters and that potential investors from Los Angeles to San Francisco have called to express their love of Mount Rose and interest in keeping it locally run.
The biggest question Gaul says potential investors have voiced is whether owning a piece of Mount Rose will help them avoid lift lines.
“We’re looking at some interesting packages that would involve a fast pass to help investors skip lines and having founders’ days throughout the year to incentivize people to help us,” said Gaul.
“Most importantly, we’re guaranteeing people that if they invest in us, whether it’s $10 or $10,000, that they’ll get that money back in the off chance our purchase doesn’t go through,” Gaul continued.
“If you’re willing to back us, we’re willing to back you.”
That contingency plan, despite the best intentions of OneReno, may end up being deployed.
According to a report by the Reno Gazette-Journal, the current ownership has said it is unwilling to field offers that were derived from alternative funding sources like crowdfunding, and that any potential buyer would need to have resort-operation experience, something OneReno currently lacks.
Still, Gaul said he’s optimistic that OneReno will be able to raise the money to purchase the resort and that, ultimately, that’s all that will matter.
“Money talks and the other stuff walks,” said Gaul. “We know what they’re asking for the mountain, and we feel confident that our attorneys and their attorneys will be able to come to a number that’s reasonable and profitable for all parties involved, hopefully by the end of the upcoming ski season.”
Mount Rose Ski Tahoe did not return a request for comments on this matter.
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