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How about a year round "Dry Slope" in San Francisco?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
I know many of you only ski in the "powders", but how about a year round "dry slope" in USA strikes your fancies?

In the non-skiing countries like England and the Netherlands, there are many snow skiing substitudes such as indoor ski dome, rolling carpet skiing machines and out door dry ski slopes. I am not sure Americans are for this kind of outfits.

I am in commercial real estate, today I was offered a parcel of 50 acres in the SF Bay Area. When I saw the picture, I immediately realize this is a great location for the outdoor dry slope some thing like the snowflex installations in England.

http://www.snowflex.com/

What I want to know is your thoughts if this kind of installation has a market in metro area such as San Francisco which is close enough for a day trip to Tahoe, yet it is far enough for some one who has the urge to ski locally and has no means to get away easily.

I envision the site will have man made moguls, pipes, kickers, rails and other freestyle gadgets, in addition to the normal green and blue trails, not sure if a diamond run can be had.
post #2 of 24
I don't know too much about those indoor ski areas, but my guess is that SF would not be the correct target audience for such a beast. SF has reasonable access to extremely good skiing (Tahoe) and also there are closer areas as well. The SF crowd may also be a little too discriminating to enjoy the indoor snowpark.

One of these indoor areas would work, IMHO, in Southeastern US, basically very far from any ski areas, and lots of displaced northerners who are looking for a way to get some turns. Atlanta? Miami? Texas too, maybe Houston - although they are pretty close to Colorado there, they certainly don't have access to local ski areas?

Can you tell us a little more about them? It's pretty interesting technology. Is it cold inside? What is the ski surface?
post #3 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Billd
One of these indoor areas would work, IMHO, in Southeastern US, basically very far from any ski areas, and lots of displaced northerners who are looking for a way to get some turns. Atlanta? Miami? Texas too, maybe Houston - although they are pretty close to Colorado there, they certainly don't have access to local ski areas?
After moving from Denver to Atlanta a little over 30 years ago, I snagged a job at an outdoor "dry slope" in Northwest Atlanta. Think the name was Vining's Ridge. I was maybe 13 or 14 and desperate to ski. It was a novelty and drew some traffic, but struggled along for a few years before folding.

Surface was long blade astro-turf tacked onto the hill with plastic beads spread over it. Beads would "roll" under ski and cut the friction. It took some adjustment to technique, but it basically worked. When most of beads were skidded to the bottom of the hill, we scooped them up like snow and hauled them to the top again in trash barrels.

The snowflex looks like a better surface. Maybe if you can offer expanded terrain and a "terrain park" it might draw a cross of freestylers\skate boarders, but a one-run gig gets old very fast. Sounds like a costly venture to enter without a whole lot of market research first. However, MR guarantees nothing one way or the other. I hesitate to talk anyone out of anything 'cause you never know until you try, but too risky for me.
post #4 of 24
I checked out that web site and looked at the pix of some of the UK places. I even filled out a form for info and got a free sample of the stuff. A patch about 4x5". I tell you that it would way suck to fall on the stuff. Like major road rash. Like I'd still wear long-sleeve shell and pants and helmet if I ever skied on it.

I think the place for success would have to be close major urban center with a huge population base preferably in an area with a moderate snow season. You need a large population as a very small % will be hard-core enough to bother. It has to be where there is some ski areas so you have some people already into it to draw on. The natural scene can't be so great that people just say after spring close it's only a few months to fall open. A NY/NJ suburban location might work. Getting south you do have the issue of heat. If you need full-clothing not to scrap your skin off when you fall, the place won't be that popular when its 98F. Maybe a PNW suburb but I don't know anything about the PNW.
post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 
Billd, There is no skiiing between the San Francisco Bay Area and Tahoe, Boreal, the closest is 3.5 hours away without traffic, making a day trip almost impossible. Yeah, I have done it for a day, with a bus trip starts at 4am and returns 10pm door to door. I would not do it if I were driving. To answer your and others question:

1. Snowflex is not indoor ski slope, it is outdoor ski slope, it is no longer astro turf, this new material has improved performance in turns of "hurt" level and the feeling of skiing/snowboarding. No I have not been to England to try it myself, but based on others have tried, it can feel like skiing using the regular ski/sb.
2. Terrain Park is going to be the major attraction for the installation. It will not be long enough as "Normal slopes" to allow skiers to get the skiing excitement.
3. Year round Training both physically and mentally will be the major selling point. It will surely beat the "ski machine".
4. San Francisco Bay Area is a major skiing center where many skiers resides, if the slope is anywhre close to skiing/SB they will be accepted.
5. In England, they have trained many freestyle skiers on this material and some one had achieved WC stature.
6. This surface can be used by both skiers and snowboarders.

I know this is a risky proposition, that is why I have not jump in with my two feet.
post #6 of 24
I think that the terrain park aspect is very cool and honestly would be a much bigger potential draw than a single (crowded?) slope.

Maybe pairing this terrain park area with another attraction - movie theater? water slides? tanning salon? arcade? you get the drift. anyways i think that the terrain park actually would be pretty good. and if there was a long "slope" to ski down so much the better i suppose.

very interesting stuff, do you represent the manufacturer of this ski technology? his broker? or would you invest yourself into building this type of slope? I assume that the cost of the LAND around SF is huge, and that the snowpark would actually be less of an expense?
post #7 of 24
Thread Starter 
Billd,
The land in the San Francisco area has a huge price tag if the land can be used for buliding some thing. This lot offered to me is in an expensive area, but it cannot be used for much building, so it is not THAT expensive. If this project get to anywhere maturity, I will be one of the principle both in the use of Snowflex material and building the park. In fact, the snowflex installation is very expensive, perhaps it is even more expensive than THE LAND value.
post #8 of 24
leanr2turn: I believe the meadowlands (giants stadium and vicinity) already has plans for an indoor slope (surface is artificial snow)...whole complex goes by the name of Xanadu or some deal like that...supposed to begin construction in a year or two.

I read something about the cost to build an indoor facility, something like the (dare I say it) milton keyes snowdome in england, runs in the 10's of millions of $$
post #9 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Billd
I don't know too much about those indoor ski areas, but my guess is that SF would not be the correct target audience for such a beast. SF has reasonable access to extremely good skiing (Tahoe) and also there are closer areas as well. The SF crowd may also be a little too discriminating to enjoy the indoor snowpark.
Quote:
Originally Posted by learn2turn
I think the place for success would have to be close major urban center with a huge population base preferably in an area with a moderate snow season. You need a large population as a very small % will be hard-core enough to bother. It has to be where there is some ski areas so you have some people already into it to draw on. The natural scene can't be so great that people just say after spring close it's only a few months to fall open. A NY/NJ suburban location might work. Getting south you do have the issue of heat. If you need full-clothing not to scrap your skin off when you fall, the place won't be that popular when its 98F. Maybe a PNW suburb but I don't know anything about the PNW.
I think your main locations to look at building this would be NYC and SF. Given that you have an offer for land in SF, that should be your primary target. The reason being is that you need a population base that already skis to come and visit. I would imagine that the winter months would be your slow months as most people would travel to the mountains to get their skiing fix for the winter. A few years back when the Summer XGames were in SF, they actually brought some snow down from the mountains and made a big air jump as an exibition event and the turnout was great.

Also, the areas with cool summer climates (west coast) will work better for the reasons listed by learn2turn. The norther displacement theory just doesn't hold. Yes, there are a lot of Yanks that now live in the south. But if they moved there and still ski they probably are a bit older, and make enough money to fly anywhere they want to go skiing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Billd
I think that the terrain park aspect is very cool and honestly would be a much bigger potential draw than a single (crowded?) slope.

Maybe pairing this terrain park area with another attraction - movie theater? water slides? tanning salon? arcade? you get the drift. anyways i think that the terrain park actually would be pretty good. and if there was a long "slope" to ski down so much the better i suppose.
I agree, throw in some video games, a go kart track and a batting cage. Make it a hang out for kids.

Quote:
Originally Posted by makwendo99
I read something about the cost to build an indoor facility, something like the (dare I say it) milton keyes snowdome in england, runs in the 10's of millions of $$
The cost of building an indoor facility is primarily in the snowmaking cost and constructing a building that can stay cold enough to support the snow. With an artificial surface, this is not an issue.

I think it is a great idea, but I can't cruch numbers without knowing how much the land and installation cost are.
post #10 of 24
God though, with land costs in Bay Area I can't help but think that there is a higher use for the land. Does it have odd zoning, geology or something like that??
post #11 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lodro
God though, with land costs in Bay Area I can't help but think that there is a higher use for the land. Does it have odd zoning, geology or something like that??
Perhaps you are not aware that Land value is high in the Bay Area only because there is a use of the land, like residential, industrial, commercial....etc. But for land that is of Agricultual or others use, the value is not very high. There is a 4+ acres 45 degree sloped land in my town that is surrounded by million dollar houses only costs $70,000. You cannot build or grow plant/tree on that slope, not even put an cell phone antena tower on it. The owner had put it up for sale for many months with no takers.
post #12 of 24
Screw that, I'll take the real thing.
post #13 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jtq_99
Screw that, I'll take the real thing.
I dig you, but what about when there is no snow? Do you move to S. America or Australia? Also, during the season, can you ski every day? How about after work at 7pm in the evenings?
post #14 of 24
I learned to ski on a dry slope, and there are several using different materials around the UK. They used to be made of Dendix, but Snowflex is the preferred route now. It is good for beginners as you can go out and learn in warmer weather, and on a shorter slope. With a longer slope, jumps, terrain park, etc, you can have something that is a lot of fun.

Here is the largest dry slope in the UK:
http://ski.midlothian.gov.uk/
post #15 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by jackwan1
I dig you, but what about when there is no snow? Do you move to S. America or Australia? Also, during the season, can you ski every day? How about after work at 7pm in the evenings?
Move to the right coast.
post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by jackwan1
Billd, There is no skiiing between the San Francisco Bay Area and Tahoe, Boreal, the closest is 3.5 hours away without traffic, making a day trip almost impossible. Yeah, I have done it for a day, with a bus trip starts at 4am and returns 10pm door to door. I would not do it if I were driving. To answer your and others question:

1. Snowflex is not indoor ski slope, it is outdoor ski slope, it is no longer astro turf, this new material has improved performance in turns of "hurt" level and the feeling of skiing/snowboarding. No I have not been to England to try it myself, but based on others have tried, it can feel like skiing using the regular ski/sb.
2. Terrain Park is going to be the major attraction for the installation. It will not be long enough as "Normal slopes" to allow skiers to get the skiing excitement.
3. Year round Training both physically and mentally will be the major selling point. It will surely beat the "ski machine".
4. San Francisco Bay Area is a major skiing center where many skiers resides, if the slope is anywhre close to skiing/SB they will be accepted.
5. In England, they have trained many freestyle skiers on this material and some one had achieved WC stature.
6. This surface can be used by both skiers and snowboarders.

I know this is a risky proposition, that is why I have not jump in with my two feet.
Personally, I feel this type of area would do best in a region that is not only far from reasonable skiing, but that is home to a large population of never-evers or casual skiers/boarders. Most of the reasonably dedicated skiers and boarders in the bay area I know of would much rather drive to Tahoe than ski on an at-best-intermediate-level hill made of plastic.

On a side note, you're exaggerating the driving times. Boreal, without traffic is 2.5 hours easily from the peninsula, less from the East Bay. Personally, I've made day trips leaving Foster City at 5:30am, arriving at the lodge at Alpine Meadows at 8:30am, skiing from first chair to last, and being back home by 8:00pm. Speeding? Sure, but nothing unreasonable. 4am?? Maybe for the slow-as-molasses-in-January Ski Bus.
post #17 of 24
1. I drive regularly to ski at Tahoe from the Bay Area. Three hours without traffic. I often go up for the day, and have gone up just for a morning of gate training. But then I'm a fanatic. Even so, I'm not sure I'd ski on an artificial surface, and wouldn't take my racing skis on it either. But then again, now that I think of it, by August I'll be desperate to ski, and as long as you have slalom or GS gates set, I'd be there, and I have a garage full of fully depreciated skis.

2. In your market research, check out San Francisco's Pier 39--I had understood that (at one point) they had some limited indoor skiing/snowboarding attraction. You might check out how it cash flows. Pier 39s financials are available by public request to the Port of San Francisco, but they don't break out the revenue by retail store.

3. Check into what laws protect you from liability. My understanding is that ski resorts mostly all got protected by state legislation, after the wave of litigation in the late 80s/early 90s, making it harder to sue them for injuries. You'd want to fit into that safe harbor. Send me a PM and I can track that info down for you (we do the legal work for Kirkwood.)

4. I think you need to push the terrain park/youth/cool marketing, and to do that, you should hook up with (A) 1440, a retail store in Berkeley aimed at snowboarders and extreme sports. (You'd give them the ability to unload unsold snowboards in June) and (B) Windell's, a summer snowboarding camp on Mt. Hood. At a minimum, try to buy Windell's mailing list, and do a survey of all their campers in the Bay Area, to see if they'd try such a terrain park, at various price points.

Good luck!

SfDean

P.S. We just took the deposition of the CEO of Pier 39 on a completely different issue this week, and he was going to send us some follow up information, so maybe I'll just ask him about the skiing attraction's revenues and let you know.
post #18 of 24

Dry Slopes

Ski Market, the retail chain in the Northeast, started out as the discount outlet for St. Moritz, the swanky ski shop in Wellesley, Ma. outside of Boston. They used to have a canvas slope in the Wellesley Armory Building for years back in the 50's and 60's. It was mainly used by children's groups. They still own it, and I've seen it used at shows. However, they don't keep it permanently set-up. I think this has something to do with the evolution of ski lift technology and the sport in general. Back then rope tows were plentiful and many people skied them all over Ma. on small hills. Today they're gone. Skiing today for the average person occurs on much steeper slopes.
post #19 of 24
Sell off the land in SF and cut a deal with Squaw to put the dry slope just above the village. You'd have a demographic of devoted skiers in the area, but more importantly, you would have a tourist destination that gets plenty of traffic and would be more likely to want to give it a whirl. I just think the customer base there would be more inclined over the megamillion demographic of the City.
post #20 of 24
Just follow the real snow. Northern hemisphere November-April and then move to the Southern hemisphere May-October. Obviously, a lot easier said than done. Still trying to figure out a way to make this work for me.
post #21 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sluff Vertigo
Sell off the land in SF and cut a deal with Squaw to put the dry slope just above the village. You'd have a demographic of devoted skiers in the area, but more importantly, you would have a tourist destination that gets plenty of traffic and would be more likely to want to give it a whirl. I just think the customer base there would be more inclined over the megamillion demographic of the City.
I disagree...I think you need the city because no matter how interested people are, they aren't going to do it as much as they would the real thing, and there aren't enough people in the Tahoe basin...I would definitely ski on plastic between June and October in the Bay Area, but probably not during the winter, and the way seasons have been going lately, maybe only June to September! Definitely would enjoy it, but would be hard pressed to spend $50 for a ticket. Maybe an hourly rate, $10/hour??
post #22 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks for so much inputs from the members, I would like to summarize and make my points and let the discussions continues.

1. SFdan. Thank you pointing me to Pier 39, it’s a great point. I’d be very inerested to know about your discussions with the CEO of Pier 39. Perhaps you are not aware of there is a rolling carpet ski machine shop in the Bay area that is run by Sam. He is not only surviving by teaching people skiing on the machine but also selling the machine all over the world.
2. Liability, that is the most concern of mine other than market research. I have not deep into it, but I am scared to death about being sued by customers.
3. I have not bought the land, if you read my first post, therefore, nothing to sell yet. But no where near I will put the plastic thing in Tahoe. You must put the dry slope in Metro centers, be it in San Francisco, LA, NY, Atlanta, Houston, St. Louis or Chicago. Because there are millions of people who have no time to drive 7 hours per day back and forth to the slopes who want to ski in those big cities, a dry slope is a good place for them to learn, practice and try out.
4. Like a skate park, a ski/sb terrain park is actually the selling point of this project. I agree to a skier, they prefer snow than plastic. But to terrain park users, they may accept plastic if the "hurt factor" is the same. I would not even think of this type of outfit in the USA without the advent of Snowboarding.
5. Promotion will also include this is an "exercise", just like the tennis or golf courts. And a "practice" range for those ski/sb die harts. The terrain parks are there for the big air people also.
6. Other activities we can add later such as skateboard terrain park, gym, rock climbing etc. But I think people will drive 1-2 hours to ski/snowboard, if there is no real thing nearby. Just like rock climbing, who would think those indoor rock-climbing stores will flourish? If you were a rock climber, would you rather have the "real thing"? It’s the same principle.
7. I am fully aware of the New Jersey indoor skiing constructions, I lived in New Jersey for 30 years and Meadowlands is in Bergen County where I had my house for over 16 years. Don't forget, if they are building up a structure like that in a place real skiing is only one hour away (Campgaw in addition to Mountain Creek and Hidden Valley (2 hours)), they must have done their market studies. If they think people in New York Metro will use it, people in San Francisco and LA will love to run on plastics even in the winter, because there is no "real thing" for people to ski in a evening trip (I mean leave work at 4 or 5 PM, ski for 2-3 hours and return home before midnight) whereas in NYC that is possible in the dead winter only. Just imagine the convenience of being able to make some big air every day at 7PM and be in bed at 11PM. Why skiing/sb has to be done from 8:30AM to 4PM?
8. I think indoor skiing on man made "snow" is a mistake; there are at least 20 of them in Japan and many other places. The largest one in Tokyo closed its door in 2001 or 2002 and the one in Shanghai, China is struggling. The cost is too much to construct (Minimum of 20 million to start a small one) and the quality of the "snow" is too poor. The slopes are too gentle and the terrain parks are too elementary.
post #23 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by jackwan1
Just imagine the convenience of being able to make some big air every day at 7PM and be in a hospital bed at 11PM.
Dude, big airs are like 30 feet and over where I ski. A ragdoll on impact into a surface comparable to a skateboard park really wouldn't appeal to the huckers I know.
post #24 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sluff Vertigo
Dude, big airs are like 30 feet and over where I ski. A ragdoll on impact into a surface comparable to a skateboard park really wouldn't appeal to the huckers I know.
Right, bud. There will never be a comparison between natral wonder and man made plastics. However, when some one can not have access to natural wonder, he can only take man made stuff as substitudes. Rock climbing is one good example.
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