Modernizations, events, year-round activities, and demand contribute to 2022-23 success
The New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (Olympic Authority) announces record visits of more than one million to its venues during the 2022-2023 year that concluded on March 31. The Olympic Authority estimates this is an increase of more than 15% from pre-pandemic visitation.
Olympic Authority venues include the alpine ski resorts of Belleayre Mountain, Gore Mountain, and Whiteface Mountain, along with the Olympic Center, Mt Van Hoevenberg, and Olympic Jumping Complex. The average number of admissions to the venues over the previous three years was approximately 828,000, which was below the pre-pandemic average of approximately 840,000 per year. Conference Center events, custom groups, non-ticket events, and functions are not included in any of these calculations, which would reflect an even higher number of visits.
The record-breaking numbers come in the wake of the completion of multiple capital projects that upgraded and modernized each of the Olympic Authority’s venues. The improvements have made for a stronger guest experience while also making it possible to host year-round activities and major international winter sporting events, such as the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup event in February that drew the largest crowd at any single venue since the 1980 Winter Olympic Games.
“Over the past six years, with heavy construction at times, we never missed an operating season,” stated Michael Pratt, President and CEO. “We will always have projects to properly maintain our facilities, but we are certainly optimistic about the resurgence since the improvements have been completed.”
The greatest number of visits to Olympic Authority venues took place between December and March, with approximately 750,000 visits during that timeframe making up 73% of the new record. January and February brought in the most overall visits, while favorable skiing conditions and major events at multiple venues boosted March numbers well above average, with more than 50,000 visits during the month.
Belleayre Mountain in the Catskills saw a particularly large increase in visits, with its number of admissions jumping from 179,006 in 2021-22 to 237,825 in 2022-23. The Olympic venues in Lake Placid – Mt Van Hoevenberg, Olympic Jumping Complex, and Olympic Center – saw a combined increase of more than 63,000 visits.
Despite abbreviated visitation for several months of the year due to construction, the Olympic Center rebounded strongly since re-opening in November. The venue became a central focal point of the 2023 FISU World University Games in January as host of the opening and closing ceremonies as well as several other high-profile sporting events. The FISU Games were followed by the ECAC Hockey Championships and the ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships, with hockey tournaments happening throughout.
Olympic Authority venues have also expanded their year-round offerings providing one-of-a-kind recreational attractions and activities. New attractions at the Olympic Jumping Complex include the Sky Flyer zip line, Skyride gondola, and a glass elevator to one of the best views in the Adirondacks from the top of the HS 128 meter ski jump. Mt Van Hoevenberg has become a hub of year-round activity with an indoor rock climbing center and push start facility inside its new Mountain Pass Lodge, with trail bike rentals, a roller ski loop for athletes, and the Cliffside Coaster that follows the path of the 1980 Olympic Bobsled Track. The Olympic Center has opened the new Lake Placid Olympic Museum and Miracle Plaza. Mt Van Hoevenberg and the Olympic Ski Jumps offer enhanced year-round training and competitions for elite athletes as well as programs for developing athletes via a roller ski loop and ski jumps. Bobsled Experience, Discover Luge, and Discover Biathlon draw guests to experience and try new sports.
The modernization projects were executed with sustainability as a primary objective and to make the venues more resilient to meet the challenges presented by a changing climate. For instance, the upgraded refrigeration plant at the Olympic Center is more energy efficient, providing 25% more cooling capacity and more reliable ice surfaces. Modernized high-efficiency snowmaking now requires less energy yet provides the capacity to extend ski seasons as the resorts are able to open earlier in the year and stay open later.
Alongside the tangible visits, the Olympic Authority has provided positive intangible impacts – from brand awareness and customer loyalty to quality of life and athlete development. Visits produce not only a direct impact to the venues but also contribute to spending across a wide range of sectors as winter and summer visitors, competitors, and spectators inject millions into the local economies.
“Our staff has worked incredibly hard,” concluded Pratt. “The Olympic Authority is poised for success. We have the facilities and team to continue significantly impacting the economies in both the Adirondack and Catskill regions.”