Franco Funicello: We’ll gladly take Howelsen Hill |

Franco Funicello: We’ll gladly take Howelsen Hill

First off, thank you to City Council President Walter Magill and other council members for even suggesting a discounted lift ticket to give those who cannot afford a ticket across the valley on the mountain, not now, and maybe not in the near future … a chance to ski.

Most people will never make millions or even hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. Yes, this is a fact in the U.S. Most households do not make over $80,000 a year. Not even close.

The millionaires and billionaires and their families that America has already produced since our country’s inception have already taken most of the country’s income, squirreled it away, will continue to do so, and it seems like they can sleep perfectly fine every night with seven, eight, nine and 10 figures stacked away while the rest of the country is told, “They just didn’t work as hard …”

Most people in the country will never ski Steamboat, and households of two or more with an income of less than $50,000 per year, who do not live here, will probably never ski Steamboat, even if they really wanted to, especially if they live outside of the state of Colorado.


Skiing is outrageously expensive for most people. Sure, skiing can be fundamental for people of all incomes in ski towns, and some of the low-income job providers (they think $13/hr is a great wage because well, its $5.75 per hour more than the federal minimum wage so that’s good right?) offer a discounted ticket or if you work for the mountain maybe a free pass, but this does not give most people the chance to experience Steamboat.

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Living in ski towns and skiing are expensive for most people.

I and many others would like to live in a ski town that operates even a small hill on a business model that provides extremely affordable skiing (maybe even 1 free day per month or per week) for its low-income citizens as well as anyone across the nation who wants to ski but cannot afford to. Here are some thoughts for us about a great business model and one of the only living millionaires actually worthy of their millions if you have read this far …

In the words of Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist, “Basically, I just decided on a different business model in '99, nothing altruistic. While Silicon Valley VCs and bankers were telling me I should become a billionaire, I decided no one needs to be a billionaire  —  you should know when enough is enough.

“So I decided on a minimal business model, and that's worked out pretty well. This means I can give away tremendous amounts of money to the nonprofits I believe in.”

This means we could get a ski area back up and running that is not all about profit, and more importantly, used by those who would be glad to have it. The “poor” could actually pay for themselves, imagine that. Not only for themselves, but for the rehab of the hill, the lifts and the tower.

If we could have even a small hill for just us, for anyone who had enough money for some used skis at Goodwill in Junction and a pair of outlet priced Columbia Sportswear pants to ski, for us to be able to ski as much as we wanted to, that would be great.

Let the more “fortunate,” “smarter,” “harder working,” “privileged,” whatever you want to call them, have the big mountain across the street. We’ll gladly take the hill.

Franco Funicello

Steamboat Springs