Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area near Boise announced Thursday a 30.5-percent increase for adult season passes for next season — marking the end of an 18-year run of severely discounted passes.
The move comes as the nonprofit ski area has been operating at a deficit, accumulating debt and trying to figure out how to survive with unreliable winter weather.
An adult pass during the annual sale that begins Feb. 15 and will run through Feb. 21 will be $299 this year — a $70 increase. New buyers can use the pass to ski the rest of this season, too.
Family passes increased by 9.1 percent to $999.
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Bogus also is offering some new limited-access deals: $99 for night skiing (after 4 p.m.) and $239 for a mid-week/non-holiday pass.
“This upcoming sale is very important for us,” Brad Wilson, Bogus Basin general manager, said in a statement. “This mountain’s future depends on the ongoing support of our season pass holders as well as this entire community. The costs to operate the mountain increase each year, but our prices have been unchanged for 18 years. It is time to make an adjustment in order to have future stability. Being non-profit means that every single dollar we receive goes right back into our operations, improvements, and educational programs. These new prices will allow Bogus Basin to fulfill our mission and to maintain this community treasure for the future.”
The price list:
• Adult pass 2016/17 — sale price $299 (was $229 last year)
• Adult mid-week/non-holiday pass 2016/17 — sale price $239 (new product)
• Night-only season pass 2016/17 — sale price $99 (new product)
• Junior season pass (age 12-18) — sale price $229 (was $199 last year; also, 19-year-olds have been dropped)
• Family season pass 2016/17 — sale price $999 (was $916 last year)
• Senior season pass (age 70+) — $199 (same as last year)
• Child season pass (age 7-11) — $69 (was $59 last year)
• Pre-school season pass (ages 6 and under) — $29 (was $25 last year)
Bogus Basin still will offer two buddy passes with each adult pass, but they aren’t free. Those passes will allow for the purchase of half-price tickets. The full benefit list for season passes (subject to change): Tamarack tickets (one late season, one early season, one summer), Diamond Peak at Lake Tahoe (four tickets with some blackout dates), June Mountain at Lake Tahoe (four tickets with some blackout dates), two summer tickets at Bogus Basin, two half-price buddy tickets, free Nordic pass at Bogus Basin. The benefits, available only during the one-week sale, are available to adult, senior, junior and midweek buyers.
Pass prices increase at the end of the sale and in September and November.
The Tamarack tickets will be good March 21-27, 2016 (this spring), during this summer and Dec. 9, 2016-Jan. 8, 2017 (excluding Dec. 26-Jan. 1). Tamarack pass holders will receive two free Bogus night tickets.
“We’re excited to team up with Bogus Basin on this reciprocal season pass deal. We believe that both ski areas offer different incentives to skiers and riders. Our guests will get a chance to experience night skiing which is a one-of-kind experience at Bogus Basin. And, Bogus Basin pass holders will get a chance to ski Tamarack, one of America’s newest ski resorts,” Brad Larsen, general manager of Tamarack Resort, said in a statement.
Bogus Basin began offering deeply discounted season passes in February for the 1998-99 season. The price was $199, less than half of the regular price. Sales jumped from 3,500 season passes for the previous season to 25,000 — and the program was emulated around the country.
But while other ski areas have slowly increased their prices — Brundage Mountain near McCall offered a $199 pass in 2001-02 but has raised that price incrementally to $349 for 2016-17 — Bogus Basin has kept its low price.
Bogus’ price moved to $229 in 2003-04 but dropped back to $199 in 2005-06. Returning pass holders got them for $179 in 2012 because of a short season the winter before. The price returned to $229 in 2013-14.
A recent feasibility study concluded that Bogus was underpriced and needed to increase revenue.
The feasibility study reported that Bogus Basin’s skier visits dropped from 356,000 in 2010-11 to 173,000 in 2014-15. The other 29 ski areas studied average $70 of revenue per skier visit; Bogus Basin gets about half that. The other ski areas have increased their profit per skier to as much as $6; Bogus Basin over the last three years lost between $1.43 and $4.14 per skier.
According to the most recent available tax records, Bogus Basin’s total assets were just short of $15 million on May 31, 2014, and total liabilities were almost $12 million. The liabilities included $7,942,155 in debt.
The ski area reported a $1.2 million profit in the 2011 tax year but lost more than $500,000 over the next three years.
“The heart of the issue that Bogus Basin currently faces is in its pricing structure,” the feasibility study states. “While in the past the volume model proved to be successful, this approach is no longer feasible due to changing market and climatic conditions. ... While these deeply discounted passes were popular many years ago, all of the ski areas have substantially ‘moved the pricing needle’ over the years in order to address increasing capital and operating needs. Simply stated, Bogus Basin can no longer afford to continue this practice.”
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Tamarack also released its sale prices, good Feb. 15-29. Passes included two night-skiing tickets at Bogus and free skiing for the rest of this season.
Prices include $299 adults, $899 family, $179 20-something (18-29), $229 midweek, $199 teen (12-17), $89 junior (7-11) and $129 (70-plus). Thre are more discounts. More info here.
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The Brundage sale also begins Feb. 15. Prices include $349 adults, $249 first-timers, $159 (70-plus), $199 (12-17), $89 (7-11) and $999 family. Here are the pricing details for that.
Brundage increased the adult pass by $10 this year. It also is going back to free spring skiing for new pass holders.