Skiers and snowboarders in Minnesota may have a new reason to hate warm winters.
The House Mining and Outdoor Recreation Policy Committee approved a bill Tuesday that would appropriate $6 million from the General Fund during Fiscal Year 2017 for grants to build new ski facilities and improve existing locations.
Sponsored by Rep. Joe Hoppe (R-Chaska), HF3757 would direct the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission to establish a “Snow Angel” grant program to promote and further develop skiing in Minnesota. It would direct the commission to invite proposals for several ski facility projects, including:
A number of former Olympians and current U.S. Ski Team members from Minnesota were on hand to lend their support.
Former Red Wing Mayor Dennis Egan told the committee 19 alpine (downhill) ski facilities around the state would be able to tap into the funds and that the bill was also meant to help develop Nordic (cross country) skiing and ski jumping.
Egan said the $6 million in grants would drive more visitors to the facilities and generate an estimated $27 million annually.
He also cited an economic impact study of alpine skiing and snowboarding commissioned by the Minnesota Ski Area Association in 2013. It found that 6 percent of the state’s population downhill ski or snowboard, and that there was a total economic impact of more than $400 million from the alpine skiing resort industry in Minnesota during the 2012-13 study frame. But the study also revealed that one-third of the Minnesotans who downhill ski or snowboard do so outside the state.
“The further we can develop our infrastructure and industry in Minnesota can help recapture those individuals,” Egan said.