Whiteface Mountain ski area in Wilmington.
The state Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) is looking forward to a lucrative winter season.
“We have great weather coming our direction,” ORDA President and CEO Ted Blazer said during the Dec. 18 ORDA Board meeting at the Olympic Center. “I think it’s important that we go in with enthusiasm.”
The optimism comes on the heels of a less-than-lucrative 2012.
ORDA auditor Alan Walther released the authority’s financial report for the first seven months of the fiscal year (April 1-Oct. 31) and said the net operating loss to date was $7.18 million, which is better than this time in 2011.
“Through October of 2012 there’s an operating loss prior to depreciation of $7.18 million versus an operating loss last year of $7.583 million, so you're approximately $402,000 ahead of where you were last year," Walther said.
ORDA has seen revenue increase in some areas and decrease in others.
Contributing to the loss was a $135,000 decrease in snow sports and skating revenue and a $350,000 loss for fall events, both of which have been attributed to poor weather conditions.
On a positive note, total operating revenue went up by $101,000 to $4.6 million. And tour packages and event admissions also went up $260,000 due to increased events and a strong summer.
ORDA’s budget includes revenue sources from its operations, such as corporate development and venues; non-operational revenue such as the $4.733 million state appropriation for 2012-13 and $750,000 annually from the town of North Elba in 2012 and 2013; personal services and non-personal services operating expenses; and non-operational expenses such as loan payments.
News from the venues
Other things are looking up this year, too.
All three ski resorts run by ORDA have opened for the season. Whiteface opened Nov. 17, a week ahead of schedule, Gore opened Nov. 23 and Belleayre opened Dec. 1.
“Once you get that door open, people will start coming in, and things will start to get a lot easier” Blazer said.
This season will be Belleayre’s first under ORDA’s operation. They acquired management of the resort, located in Highmount in the Catskill Park, earlier this year from the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
Blazer said snowmaking and grooming improvements made for this year have been integral to the early openings and will keep people coming back to the resorts.
ORDA also has big plans for the Conference Center at Lake Placid, which is expected to bring in 12,760 people next year. Events there include the New York State Snowmobile Association, the Ironman competition and the New York State School Boards Association.
Blazer said the conference center has been instrumental in bringing people to the region — the recent Can/Am hockey tournament brought in 5,000 people, and the 2013 Eastern Synchronized Skating Sectional Championships, which begins Jan. 30, is expected to bring in 2,300 athletes.
Some improvements have been made to existing properties, too.
Offices at the cross-country ski area at the Olympic Sports Complex, Mt. Van Hoevenberg, were renovated to accommodate more guests.
“What we’ve done is we’ve opened it up and Adirondacktized it,” Blazer said.
Instead of desks and office chairs, the building will now be used as a ski lodge, with couches and chairs, wooden tables and outdoor-inspired decor.
Renovations to the 1932 Rink at the Olympic Center have also been completed, returning the building to its former glory.
Aside from improvements at home, ORDA is running Coke Wednesdays. Visitors to any of ORDA’s three ski centers can get a $30 lift ticket if they bring a coke product with them on select Wednesdays.
Advertising in Canada has also increased, most notably with a “mobile billboard,” which drives around Montreal and displays a projected video advertising Whiteface Mountain on the side of buildings.