What will Vail Resorts' acquisition of Afton Alps bring to the Twin Cities ski and snowboard market? A bucketful of cash. In a press release, the Colorado-based company announced that it will "invest nearly $10 million in enhancements and upgrades to Afton Alps this summer."
Among other areas, the company says it will spend money on snowmaking and base facilities. It also promises "create state-of-the-art terrain parks with extensive new features and rope tows."
It's ironic that rope tows, a technology from the 1930s, get a mention from a company noted for luxury (Vail, Beaver Creek). Yet the future for Afton may lie in the past. After all, you don't need a lot of vertical feet to put together a great terrain park that will draw carloads of (young) customers.
Vail Resorts already has arguably the premier freestyle terrain on the planet right in its Breckenridge. Vail can't bring the mountains to Minnesota, but it can bring its park-making know-how. Oh, and tow ropes, which let terrain-park enthusiasts quickly make laps.