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Afton Alps to be sold to Vail Resorts

Afton Alps is being purchased by the operators of one of North America's most well-known skiing destinations, officials announced today.

According to a news release, Vail Resorts, Inc., has entered into agreements to buy Afton Alps and a ski resort in Michigan for a combined $20 million.

The buyer plans to "upgrade and enhance" the skiing experience at Afton Alps and at Mount Brighton, Mich.

Part of the acquisition strategy appears to be an effort to drive ski trips to Vail and other ski areas owned by the operator. The release states Vail Resorts will "create opportunities" to connect Midwest skiers to its seven other resorts in Colorado and Lake Tahoe via season passes and lift-ticket products.

"These acquisitions are part of a new strategy for Vail Resorts to drive season pass sales and build broader guest loyalty by looking at premier smaller ski areas located near major urban markets," said Rob Katz, chairman and CEO of Vail Resorts. "We plan to bring state-of-the-art racing, terrain parks, coaching and technology to the guest experience."

According to the release, Vail Resorts plans to redesign Afton's terrain park, enhance coaching and instruction, as well as improving racing programs and on-site amenities.

The release states that Afton Alps is the largest ski area near a major metropolitan area in the Midwest. The ski area, which includes 48 trails on 300 acres, has been operated by the Augustine family and is nearing its 50th anniversary.

"Afton Alps' great terrain and strong heritage built by the Augustine family make it an ideal ski area for our entry into the Minneapolis-St. Paul market," Katz said.

Vail Resorts operates ski areas around the country including the Colorado resorts of Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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