MMSA acquires Bear Mountain and Snow Summit

mammoth_statue_snowing.jpgA press release from Mammoth Mountain confirmed today that the company, Mammoth Resorts LLC, has entered into an agreement to acquire Big Bear Mountain Resorts which includes both Bear Mountain and Snow Summit. According to the Los Angeles Times, this is a $38 million deal. The release says Mammoth Resorts, LLC, is “affiliated with Mammoth Mountain and June Mountain resorts.”

Mammoth Mountain officials say that the two popular southern California ski and snowboard resorts host nearly 800,000 winter visits annually. This acquisition puts Mammoth Mountain in control of more than 4,000 acres of skiable land in California, according to the Times, which are visited by about 2 million skiers and snow boarders a year.

The Mountain’s press release quotes CEO Rusty Gregory as saying, “This acquisition represents the beginning of a renaissance for both Mammoth and Big Bear and is the first step in the next era of skiing and riding in California.” Gregory said in coming months the Mountain will announce “exciting new development and expansion plans for each of our four resorts designed to attract visitors from down the street, across the country and around the world.” This acquisition focuses on both winter and summer activities at all four mountains.

The LA Times quotes Gregory as saying, “My father used to say in business you want to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing. This does look like a questionable time to buy a ski resort operation,” he said.

In addition to the recreation opportunities, the new purchase means the potential for real estate development which is of interest to Starwood Capital Group, which has a controlling interest in Mammoth Mountain.

The Times wrote that this purchase by Mammoth Mountain “follows a consolidation trend in the ski industry that has put some of the nation’s most popular mountains in the control of a handful of large resort developers. The Times also quotes Bob Roberts, executive director of the California Ski Industry Association, as saying that the consolidation trend “reflects the industry’s efforts to make profits at a time of unreliable snowfall.” Roberts also referred to a “climate-change market.”

Mammoth has also announced a new season pass that includes unrestricted access to all four mountains at the discounted rate of $689 for adults. Rusty Gregory also said that skiers and snowboarders who have already bought the Mammoth Mountain pass for this coming season will be allowed to use the pass at Bear Mountain and Snow Summit.

Mammoth’s press release says that closing of this deal is subject to certain conditions, “including Big Bear Mountain Resort shareholder approval and transfer of the U.S. Forest Service Permit that permits operations on early 1,500 acres of the San Bernardino National Forest.”

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29 Responses to MMSA acquires Bear Mountain and Snow Summit

  1. Curious September 26, 2014 at 6:31 am #

    What’s next a Mt. Baldy hostile takeover?

  2. Casper September 26, 2014 at 5:49 am #

    In a poor snow year MMSA owning the Big Bear resorts will financially hurt TOML.

  3. Ken Warner September 25, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

    BWM: I liked your post a lot.

    Reading “MMSA acquisition and home-town impact” I thought Urdi was going to have a hyperbole hemorrhage. MMSA buying Big Bear means that now everyone will come to Mammoth Lakes — makes perfect sense to me. Nobody could do that before — I guess….

  4. BWM September 25, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

    Mammoth myopia continues….

    Does anyone believe that sophisticated investors would expect a $38 million investment to be recouped from the sale of lift tickets? Just like the sale of the Mammoth Mountain by the McCoy family, these are recreational real estate development deals driven by the sole question: “Where can we find a market to build and sell $500K vacation homes?”

    Now that all of the profit has been milked from the most obvious development opportunities in Mammoth and SoCal Baby Boomers with nostalgic memories of youthful weekends at Mammoth can no longer use their primary homes as ATMs for deposits and Countrywide loans for financing, the swarm of carnival barkers are simply packing up their “for sale” signs and moving on to the “greener” markets in Southern California. That’s just the life of a real estate carnie.

    And when the “real estate investors” finally dump the ski area “at a loss” to some bottom-feeder investor who will squeeze the last drop of blood from the ski area until only a carcass remains, do not shed any tears – they already made their money from the thousands of $250K timeshares they sold to impulse buyers.

    Yeah, I know, Mammoth’s mountains are higher and more photogenic; it’s lakes clearer; and it’s historical snow levels greater. But the San Bernardino mountains reach over 10,000 feet; Big Bear Lake has decent year-round fishing, a 6-month water skiing season and several marinas to dock your boat; and access to a constant, a guaranteed water supply fueling a state-of-the-art snow-making system for full slope coverage when the snow gods frown during global climate change.

    Most importantly, there are 17 million people living within 3 hours of Big Bear. Mammoth is 6 hours from the closest full-service airport and a 14 – 16 hour round-trip automobile commute on a winter holiday weekend. I can leave my home in Redlands and be at my vacation home in Big Bear Lake in 50 minutes, except during winter storm conditions when it takes 90 minutes. Even people living in Bishop cannot say the same about the commute time to Mammoth. In an increasingly competitive world where time is of the essence, Mammoth is increasingly anachronistic.

    Regardless of the local level of denial and the “happy-talk” of community leaders, the Wooly Mammoth is now a White Elephant.

    • Charles O. Jones September 26, 2014 at 8:44 am #

      “There are 17 million people living within 3 hours of Big Bear.”

      BINGO! I realize this article is about ski areas, but believe it or not, it’s not just skiing that draws people to the mountains. And the undeniable fact that you’ve identified above will always differentiate the San Bernardino Mountains from the Eastern Sierra. While you may appreciate your 50 minute drive, when you get there you’re just in Big Bear, a place subjected to all of the trappings of the megalopolis below. And that will NEVER change. One of Mammoth’s greatest strengths is the relative remoteness of its location.

      • Ken Warner September 26, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

        Charles: You seem to be suggesting that SoCal people and culture are not desirable earlier you said — “most people don’t give a crap if you’re’ a “local” or a visitor as long as you treat others with some respect.”

        Please clarify —

        • Charles O. Jones September 26, 2014 at 1:37 pm #

          There are many good people in SoCal, there are many no-so-good as well. With the multi-millions that inhabit the area it’s just an unfortunate mathematical equation that doesn’t work well. Regardless, I do my best to show respect for others wherever I am. I hope you do the same.

  5. Ken Warner September 25, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

    Something else to consider — who knows what this means?

    Latest Seasonal Assessment – During the past 30-days, much of the Four Corners region experienced a continuation of robust monsoon conditions along with beneficial precipitation, while other areas received subnormal precipitation. The Pacific Northwest, most of California, and western and central Nevada remained fairly dry.

  6. Charles O. Jones September 25, 2014 at 11:51 am #

    These monopolies aren’t good for the consumer. The ski industry is well on its way to pricing themselves right out of existence.

    • Ken Warner September 26, 2014 at 9:00 am #

      Charles:As has been pointed out numerous times by many different people — MMSA (aka Starwood and Fortress) isn’t about skiing. It’s about using the ski area as a loss leader for real estate sales. That’s what the airport is for also. The riff goes, “…and you can just hop on a plane; ski all day; and be home for dinner…” notwithstanding the flaws in that argument.

      MMSA will sell a boatload of timeshares in Big Bear and then MMSA will be sold to some foreign investor who will once again change the face and personality of Mammoth Lakes — and Big Bear — and then take the money and run if they can.

  7. MK September 25, 2014 at 9:26 am #

    If you think about it in respect to quality.
    Vail associates purchased really nice established major destination ski resorts.
    Mammoth on the other hand just purchased 2 podunk so cal resorts of the local kind. I would not compare them as being equal in respect to Tahoe.

    I would be that if it were not for Mammoths TBID , MMSA would not have the cash to make such a purchase.
    This is my sole opinion.

  8. Tom O September 25, 2014 at 9:20 am #

    Based on the way June Mountain gets treated, here is what employees/guests of Bear Mountain and Snow Summit can expect: No more marketing,no more ABC permits, no snow making, a general lack of focus and neglect. For the guests, they can expect a decline in the guest experience,higher prices and lifts that are open some of the time. I thought this guy Rusty was ‘stepping down’ a few years ago. Remember when ski areas were about recreation? Nice legacy Rusty.

  9. MJA September 25, 2014 at 8:57 am #

    After the last two winters I bet Starwood got a hell of a deal.
    Or was it? =

  10. Desert Tortoise September 24, 2014 at 9:07 pm #

    Time to break out the sacred fuzzy ear muffs?

    Fewer competitors means less competition, higher prices and business don’t have to work as hard, which is every business person’s dream. When you’re the only game in town you can write your own ticket. When you have competitors breathing down your throat, you have to offer value and good service. Guess which way this is headed?

    • Metroman September 24, 2014 at 11:08 pm #

      This is an “industry consolidation” play. Bigger companies sell for higher multiples of their profits.

  11. paulthe395apostle September 24, 2014 at 7:32 pm #

    Too bad they didn’t buy a Tahoe area resort.

  12. gib corwin September 24, 2014 at 7:08 pm #

    And your right there are a lot of people in Big Bear that need to stay in Big Bear and probably wouldnt do very well anywhere else except for maybe Mammoth.

  13. gib corwin September 24, 2014 at 7:06 pm #

    Rusty already lives on Balboa Island.

  14. enoughalready September 24, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

    Its all about quantity not quality. He turned Mammoth into the Kmart of ski areas and pretends its a Deer Valley grade resort. He has no better chance of turning 2 more ski areas into a world class resort than he did with the first 2. I guess its more fun to sink a fleet than it is too sink just one ship. Good luck Rusty. Not only did you buy more ski runs, chair lifts and real estate, you also just bought a lot more employees.

    • upthecreek September 24, 2014 at 9:59 pm #

      Reminds me of the K-mart / Sears merger..
      two wrongs don’t make a right..

      38 million of more debt…

  15. sugarmagnolia September 24, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

    Yep I want a discount for a mammoth only pass!

  16. Thought.. September 24, 2014 at 2:47 pm #

    MMSA should “acquire” parking for The Village.

  17. Mark September 24, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

    I think they’re worried about having another bad year. Snow Summit bad year or not they can make plenty of snow.

    I’m ok if I never go to Big Bear again. The place is worse then Mammoth when it comes to D_ bags.

  18. Trouble September 24, 2014 at 12:09 pm #

    Big Bear just sold their soul to corporate america. Any news on Rusty relocating there I hope?

  19. Tinner September 24, 2014 at 11:54 am #

    Interesting…I’m guessing these Resorts make money and I know that’s all that matters but terrain wise, isn’t this like buying two June Mountains (yawn).

    • Benett Kessler September 24, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

      Not with them being so close to the LA market. BK

  20. Mammoth Local September 24, 2014 at 11:08 am #

    Looks like MMSA is selling the same season pass all us other folks had to buy Months ago for the same price.

    • Ken Warner September 24, 2014 at 11:19 am #

      I would like a Mammoth Mountain only pass. The rest of it is of no interest or use to me.

    • Shine September 25, 2014 at 12:42 am #

      TBID is paying off for Big Bear. So Cal can now buy passes cheaper than locals.


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