Two Geneseo students are involved in an effort to purchase Swain Ski Center, a resort located an hour south of Geneseo that is slated to close permanently unless a buyer is found by August 15.
Junior Laura Kauppi said that she and her friend Allison Liedkie, a sophomore at the University of Vermont, got the idea to buy the resort about three weeks ago after Liedkie's mother suggested it.
"[At first] we thought it was a joke," Kauppi said. After looking at the numbers, however, Kauppi and Liedkie decided that it was in fact a feasible venture.
"I've always wanted to have a ski area," said Kauppi, who has taught skiing for five years.
To start gathering interest and support for the plan, Kauppi's boyfriend set up a Web site and Kauppi sent e-mails to members of Geneseo's ski and snowboard club.
Senior David Wampler, the events coordinator for the club, saw this endeavor as an opportunity to put his eighteen years of experience as a concert promoter, booking agent and backstage hospitality manager into practice. He said he is looking to clear a 15,000-person venue on the top of the mountain for an annual music festival that could generate upwards of $1 million in a weekend.
Wampler is proposing the construction of a gondola to shuttle guests to the top of the mountain and wants to get national headliners to draw people to the concert at a tentative $125 per ticket. Although he acknowledged that the first year leading up to the concert would be "rough" financially, he said his plan is "not too difficult."
In addition to the music festival, Wampler hopes to hold events such as a gondola wine and cheese ride and an Oktoberfest. "I know festivals, I know what people look for and I know how miserable it can be if it's not done right," Wampler said. If the bid is successful, he said he and hired staff will begin promoting the festival nationally at events like Mardi Gras and the Magnolia Festival.
As a public relations officer for the finance club, Wampler said he is also looking to get fellow business majors involved. In particular, he is working to get official recognition for the Geneseo chapter of Students in Free Enterprise so that it can be involved with planning the project.
Kauppi said that because there are other vendors bidding for the resort, she hopes to raise as much money possible as quickly as possible. She said she has been seeking publicity from news outlets, Facebook and word of mouth. Citing unexpected support from the community, Kauppi said, "Word of mouth has been really big."
Kauppi encourages anyone interested to visit the Web site at helpsaveswain.com.