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Updated: November 24, 2020

FAME approves additional Saddleback financing as resort prepares to reopen

COURTESY / SADDLEBACK Saddleback Mountain set up a partnership with the St. Paul, Minn.-based Venn Foundation to raise money for additional upgrades. The ski resort’s operations team is seen here removing the last tower from a Sandy double chairlift installed in the 1960s.

The Finance Authority of Maine has approved state new markets tax credit financing for Arctaris Saddleback Co. LLC, the owner and operator of the Saddleback Ski Resort in Rangeley.

FAME’s board of directors voted on the approval at its meeting held Nov. 19, according to a news release.

“FAME is pleased to help with additional financing for this important project, which will help Saddleback pay for the costs of equipment and construction associated with reopening and operating this season,” Dave Daigler, FAME’s board chair, said in the release.

“We are happy to help restart this beloved Maine ski mountain and to help stimulate year-round economic development in Rangeley and western Maine.”

Boston-based Arctaris Impact Fund LP bought Saddleback in January, paying $6.5 million for its 6,400 acres, including the ski trails and buildings.

Arctaris subsequently launched a multiyear $38 million upgrade of the resort, which is Maine’s third-largest ski area.

The resort has been closed since 2015. Although skiing at the mountain had been dormant for the past five seasons, it is resuming this season.

The board approved the issuance of a tax credit certificate related to $1,492,247 in investments through the Maine New Markets Capital Investment Program to help with financing the costs of capital improvements, construction, equipment procurement and related improvements at the resort. The certificate authorizes the issuance by the state of $581,976 in tax credits through the program.

This is the second new markets investment in the Saddleback project. A prior investment of $1,326,441 was approved by FAME in March.

In January, FAME approved leveraged loan insurance of 17%, or $2.5 million,  on a $14.1 million loan by Arctaris Impact Investors LP to Arctaris, as well as a $1 million FAME direct loan to Arctaris.

In December 2019, the Maine Rural Development Authority approved a $1 million loan to Arctaris Saddleback Co. LLC. 

In addition to helping Arctaris purchase the mountain and resume operations at the ski resort, FAME’s financing is expected to benefit area business and help stimulate the local economy and increase tax revenues. The action is expected to help create 71 full-time jobs and 134 seasonal ones. 

Saddleback Mountain offers a 2,000-foot vertical drop and is one of seven New England mountains with a top-lift elevation of over 4,000 feet. In terms of number of trails, Saddleback is the third-largest ski mountain in Maine and is first of the three mountains in Maine with over 2,000 feet of vertical drop.

There are currently three ski lifts and 66 trails on Saddleback. The mountain also has a seven-acre terrain park, with plans to expand to over 20 acres by the upcoming season.

Saddleback is in the process of making a number of improvements as part of their reopening plan, including construction of a new base lodge; the purchase and installation of a high-speed detachable quad lift; expanded snowmaking; a new grooming fleet; and increased four-season destination programs for weddings and summer outdoor recreations. Additional improvements are planned over the next several years.

“We are looking forward to Saddleback’s grand opening in mid-December and a great season of skiing and other recreation year-round,” said Uche Osuji, managing director at Arctaris Impact Investors.

Plans to open Saddleback have been a group effort. In addition to public financing, Arctaris has raised approximately $2 million in private donations from condominium owners, philanthropists and the community at large.

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