Workers are nearly finished with a new $6.5 million lodge at Mad River Mountain and employees have begun making snow in hopes of opening for business next weekend.
A fire last year destroyed its well-known, historic lodge. Mad River Mountain is the largest ski resort in the state. More than 150,000 people normally visit the resort during the ski season, management has previously told the Springfield News-Sun.
Construction on the lodge began after the 2015-2016 ski season, Mad River Mountain General Manager Tom Price said, and will be almost twice the size of the old lodge.
“It’s just going to be way more comfortable than the old facility,” he said.
The new structure will have more space for eating, a kitchen, Price said, and a loft bar.
“We expect bigger crowds hopefully with our new facility,” he said.
The first floor will be able to seat 800 people while the upstairs will seat more than 300, according to Mad River’s website. The new structure will also have stained glass windows as a tribute to the old lodge.
Mad River Mountain’s old lodge was destroyed by fire in September 2015. The State Fire Marshall’s Office determined the blaze was probably started by an electrical issue or smoldering cigarette.
A temporary lodge was built for the 2015-2016 season and then torn down at the end of the season.
“It has been quite the adventure,” Price said. “We are doing the finishing touches this week and early next week.”
Snow making began at the ski resort early Thursday morning and is expected to continue through the weekend. No official opening date has been set, he said, but the team hopes to possibly open next weekend.
Workers at the Vertical Drop Ski Shop down the street are anxious for the mountain to open.
“We’re looking for a big season to bounce back from last year,” Sales Associate Matt Baringer said. “Winter last year just didn’t cooperate with any business here in Ohio.”
The shop depends on Mad River Mountain for much of its business, he said.
“Our business here, it thrives completely on how well Mad River does over there,” Baringer said. “We don’t see a whole lot of business until they get opened up and then we stay busy throughout the season.”
He hopes the new lodge will mean bigger crowds at the shop as well. And both Baringer and Price are optimistic this winter will be good for skiers and snowboarders.
“It’s looking promising so far,” Baringer said.