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Duluth City Council approves $235k for Spirit Mountain payroll

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DULUTH, MN-- Spirit Mountain bailout. That's what some would call the approval of funding Monday night in the amount of $235,000 for the ski area.

Spirit Mountain felt the impact after last weekend's blizzard forced most of the 2019 AMSOIL Snocross event to be canceled. The event is critical to the mountain's bottom line, so leaders there asked the city for that big chunk of money to help soften the blow.

Council chambers were packed Monday night as snowsport lovers made a plea with the council, to save Spirit Mountain.

"Spirit Mountain is important to the city of Duluth. It is owned by the city of Duluth. It's not a handout, it's not a subsidy," says Spirit Mountains Vault and Payroll Supervisor, Kay Youderin.

Following the cancellation of the annual Snocross even, the mountain needed a way to make up for the funds. Their solution? A 235k ask from the city's tourism tax fund in order to meet employee's payrolls for the remainder of the season.

Councilor Arik Forsman says, "the tourism tax was created to help fund these very initiatives."

Many employees from the mountain spoke Monday night saying it's owned by the city of Duluth and operates as an authority of the city.

Youderin says, "like the DECC, like the airport, the zoo, the aquarium, the DTA, and our fine folks at Visit Duluth."

However, even some ski lover's weren't sold on the funding request.

Tim Carter, a local skier and frequent flier at the mountain says, "I do look at it as a bailout. I do look at is as the government picking my pocket when I'm not looking."

The majority of the council agreed, the recreational facility is important to attract visitors to the area.

Forsman says, "I don't necessarily love that the emergency nature of this is coming forward to us but it definitely is appropriate."

Now, they're focused on what's in the best long-term interest of the city."

Councilor Zack Filipovick says, "we know that Spirit Mountain can be profitable and can pay and have those cashflow issues resolved, but we might need to make sure that they are resolved for the longterm."

Though the council approved tonight's request, they stress they don't want the tourism tax fund to be abused.

Council President, Noah Hobbs even suggested the possibility to look into a task force that could determine the feasibility of Spirit Mountain going forward.


DULUTH, MN-- The Duluth City Council has approved a $235,000 funding request from Spirit Mountain.

The request comes after Dec. 1 blizzard forced much of the 2019 AMSOIL National Snocross event to be canceled. It's Spirit Mountain's biggest moneymaker.

On Thursday, representatives from Spirit Mountain went before the Duluth City Council during an agenda session and asked for $235,000 from the city's tourism tax fund.

Officials said they are worried that if they don't receive this funding, they might have to make some tough decisions.

Monday night, the council voted 8 to 1 to approve the funding allocation.


Jessie Slater

Evening Anchor and Reporter

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