Colorado businessman buys into northern Arizona ski resort, announces plans for new chairlift

A Colorado businessman who planned to buy a northern Arizona ski resort, building on investments across the Southwest, has become a partner instead.

The ski resort near Flagstaff announced Tuesday that James Coleman, of Durango, closed a deal this month to join Arizona Snowbowl LP. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Coleman approached the Snowbowl partnership last year with a bid to purchase the ski resort. It wasn't for sale publicly, but the partnership is obligated to discuss unsolicited offers, said Eric Borowsky, one of the owners. Coleman and other investors formed a company to take over the Snowbowl late last year, but the deal stalled.

Borowsky said many of the partners didn't want to sever ties with the Snowbowl, including himself. Other partners sold their interests in the Snowbowl, providing an opening for Coleman, Borowsky said.

"It was just timing, a business decision," he said.

The addition of Coleman to the team means skiers can purchase season passes for unlimited use at the Snowbowl and three other resorts where he serves as managing partner. Those are Purgatory in Durango; Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort near Taos, New Mexico; and Pajarito Mountain near Los Alamos, New Mexico.

Nik Pepris, who skis and snowboards, said the pass is attractive because of how close the other resorts are to Flagstaff. But whether it attracts more business would depend on the cost of the ticket, which is about $950 for adults at full price. The price is discounted if purchased by Aug. 7, and for children, young adults and senior citizens.

"To be able to go to several mountains on one ticket is a big benefit," Pepris said.

The Snowbowl partnership bought the ski resort in 1992 for $4 million. Since 2012, it has used treated wastewater to make snow as a way to extend the ski season and supplement what sometimes is a dismal amount of natural snow. The resort had 160,000 visitors this past season.

A new chairlift that can hold four guests per seat and spans a half-mile is scheduled to open by Christmas. The Humphreys Peak Lift will serve intermediate trails and is the first new chairlift at the Snowbowl in 30 years. Future plans include replacing existing lifts and upgrading the base lodge, Coleman said in a news release.

The construction is part of a $10 million summer investment in the four resorts.