Plans move forward for Goldbelt investing $10M in Eaglecrest’s gondola project

gondola in Galsterberg 04 2022
Eaglecrest Ski Area General Manager Dave Scanlan was at a ski area called Galsterberg in Austria in April 2022 to inspect this gondola system. Eaglecrest is buying the system and having it shipped to Juneau. (Photo courtesy of Dave Scanlan/Eaglecrest Ski Area)

In March, Goldbelt, Inc. offered to invest in the gondola system the City and Borough of Juneau bought from Austria for Eaglecrest Ski Area. At an assembly meeting this week, Goldbelt and the assembly hashed out what that deal would look like.

What they’re working on is a revenue sharing agreement. The city has spent over $2 million so far. Goldbelt will contribute $10 million to the project and would get between 10-25% of gross revenue the gondola makes. 

The deal lasts 25 years, and Goldbelt will take a share of the profits of ticket sales over that time, with a goal of getting $20 million back from their investment. If that takes longer than 25 years, the city and Goldbelt can extend the agreement. 

The agreement says the opening day for the gondola will be May 31, 2027. If that doesn’t happen, Goldbelt can back out.

The proposal aims to have 75,000 visitors to the gondola in the first year. That’s about 750 tourists a day during the summer months. Juneau city manager Rorie Watt said he thinks having a partnership with Goldbelt would help reach that number.

“If it was CBJ going it alone, I would not be very comfortable,” he said.

He referenced Goldbelt’s experience operating the tram and said, “I think [it’s] quite plausible, and small, really, in the context of the number of visitors that come.”

McHugh Pierre, Goldbelt’s president and CEO, said the gondola at Eaglecrest offers future visitors something the current Mt. Roberts tram does not: more access to outdoor sports.

“We’re not going to have mountain bikes on Mount Roberts. Goldbelt Tram is never going to authorize that,” Pierre said. “But we could see in the future where you might be riding a mountain bike down Eaglecrest. And so those are some of the things that we’re excited about.”

Pierre said he believes this partnership will pan out.

“We think this is a really great opportunity to participate,” he said. “And we believe 75,000 visitors in the first year is acceptable and doable.”

Pierre predicts tickets will cost around $100.

The next step on the gondola project is to formally introduce an ordinance to the assembly on Dec. 12, followed by public commentary in January.

Yvonne Krumrey

Local News Reporter, KTOO

Juneau is built on hidden and assumed layers of power and access, influencing how we interact with identity, with the law and with each other. I bring you stories of the gaps in access to power, and those who are working to close those gaps.

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