Fundraising begins to reopen Wyoming ski area - KOTA Territory News

Fundraising begins to reopen Wyoming ski area

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The Antelope Butte Ski Area in the Big Horn Mountains closed nearly a decade ago.

"It's such a deep and important asset for Sheridan," said Mark Weitz, President of the Antelope Butte Foundation.

The foundation is a nonprofit group that aims to reopen and manage the ski area.

"The total project is just a little bit north of $3 million to provide affordable and accessible skiing and mountain recreation and related training and education, especially for youth," said Weitz.

The group began fundraising this month.

"Just got our packets ready.  We're just making our first phone calls and contacts," said Weitz.

The ski area has not been used since 2004, but skiers could return to the slopes before the end of this year.

"Optimistically, we'll raise those funds this spring and be working on things this summer," said Weitz.

But Meadowlark Ski Lodge owner Wayne Jones doubts two ski areas can succeed in the Big Horns and claims Antelope Butte's reopening would doom his business.

"Meadowlark Ski Lodge would no longer exist.  There's no way we could continue to stay open.  We just don't have a big enough population base to support two ski lodges in this area," said Jones.

Weitz disagrees.

"Antelope Butte and Meadowlark operated for about 15 years and they both did their best when both were open," said Weitz.

"Neither ski lodge had made very much money, if any during those times.  I do know that both ski lodges ended up shutting down," said Jones.

The Antelope Butte Ski Area is about 55 miles northwest of Sheridan and the Meadowlark Ski Lodge sits about 75 miles southwest of Sheridan.  Jones purchased the ski lodge in 2009, two years after it bankrupted.

"We've yet to turn a profit," said Jones.

Jones does not share Weitz's optimism but if the foundation finds enough donors, he'll certainly hope Weitz is right.

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