Today we’re bringing you a whole lot of information about a Michigan landmark that is very near and dear to my heart: Sugar Loaf Mountain in Leelanau County. I am indeed a Sugar Loafer. I grew up skiing there, worked as a lift operator and was taken for thousands of dollars in services rendered but never paid for by the last management company to run the resort and was one of the leaders of a movement to try and acquire the resort as a community ski area. That effort was halted when the current owner, Kate Wickstrom purchased Sugar Loaf.
Since then, the resort has lain dormant. Then, about a month ago, Liko Smith emerged on the scene as a potential savior for the resort. Close on his heels were a slew of stories and accusations that have made many question whether we’re climbing back on the merry-go-round of disappointment that has become synonymous with the name of Sugar Loaf. Today I’d like to present for your consideration a wide range of information including an interview with Mr. Smith on Absolute Michigan Radio co-sponsored by Traverse Legal, so that you can come to your own conclusions.
Jacob Wheeler of the Glen Arbor Sun has a feature looking at Liko Smith, his business connections and what it would take to resurrect the long-beleaguered ski resort:
Michael Berry, President of the Denver-based National Ski Areas Association, thought that reopening Sugar Loaf was entirely possible. Berry guessed that one could acquire new ski lifts and snowmaking equipment at Sugar Loaf for $4-5 million, and satisfy insurance company standards within two or three months (there are only two or three players in the industry).
…But one ski expert at a Midwestern resort, who asked to remain anonymous, doubted Berry’s optimistic prognosis for Sugar Loaf, and estimated that it would cost at least $10-15 million to buy equipment, make snow, and open the hills. He added that Smith would have to order lifts by next month, or there would be no way to get them in time for next winter.
…â€œSugar Loaf would have to pull skiers away from (nearby resorts) Crystal Mountain, Nubs Nob and Boyne. â€¦ The market isn’t getting any bigger. Sugar Loaf would have to draw from the existing players.â€
Click through to read more and other coverage from the Glen Arbor Sun.
If you’d like to meet Liko and hear more about his plans, there’s a $100 Quad Fund mixer at Red Ginger in Traverse City. More about that and more from Liko at likosmith.com. (hint: click the “Friends of Sugar Loaf” for some interesting reading and insight into Liko Smith and the feeling in the community).
You can find more discussion about this on Leelanau.com which has followed the saga of Sugar Loaf for a decade, but by far the most active discussion has taken place in the Friends of Sugar Loaf group on Facebook.