In an interesting development Vail Ski Resort is purchasing Afton Alps (on the map) around Minneapolis and Brighton Mountain near Detroit. The first reaction I have seen is one of astonishment and even disbelief. Grays on Trays starts off:
In news that is NOT from the Onion, Vail Resorts has announced that it will purchase two ski areas in the Midwest: Afton Alps, outside the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Mt. Brighton, outside Detroit.
Honestly, I’m stunned. Vail Resorts holds a number of big-name properties, including Breckenridge, Heavenly, and of course, Vail. It has certainly bought ski areas before, including Northstar-at-Tahoe (2010) and early this year, Kirkwood, another Tahoe-area resort.
Obviously, the reaction is why would a resort group such as Vail want with little hills in the Upper Midwest? Simple, both resorts are near major metropolitan areas and owning resorts in those vicinities gets their hooks a bit deeper into those markets than they were before. Many ski resorts out West partner with the resorts around here but now Vail does not have to worry ab out the whims of ski resorts around here but they have their own presence. They can now bring resources to those hills to increase traffic and some of that traffic is now more likely to go to a Vail destination resort.
Let us also remember, the best US skier of this generation (and the best Woman skier in the world) got her start at Buck Hill which is akin to the Afton Alps and near Minneapolis. Ski talent is all over this nation and moves like Vail’s is only going to help spot, foster, and bring that talent to the fore.