Some good points, but I don't think the operating costs can possibly be higher than the mountain resorts out West. Not sure if you guys have been out there? They are huge operations in quite a wild setting.
To give you an idea of some of the operating costs out West:
- Snoqualmie is open until 10pm 6 days a week at Alpental, Summit Central and Summit West, which offer a huge amount of terrain (compared to Midwest resorts) and you bet they have a ton of lighting
- perform avalanche control and monitoring daily
- have a large staff of ski patrol to cover the much larger and more dangerous terrain
- higher quantity of lifts which are also much longer
- plenty of onsite medical assistance (which is probably true for midwest as well
- the grooming costs are obviously going to be higher for the size and complexity of the terrain out West
- the insane amount of snowfall which is a huge plus for the obvious reasons, but the maintenance costs associated with keeping the local road ways/paths and parking lots are very high and a constant job
But I don't know, you could all be right, its just really hard for me to imagine how the operating costs could be higher in the Midwest just because of making snow.
It could be related to the volume of sales in relationship to profit but it seems like there is a lot of competition out here, especially in WI, which would drive costs down further. I really don't know how it all breaks down.