Skiers and snowboarders used to complain about a variety of issues at Hogadon Basin Ski Area’s old lodge.
The building was in poor condition and wasn't handicapped-accessible. There weren't enough bathrooms. Purchasing ski passes and rental equipment involved going to separate locations.
But that was the former facility.
After more than a year of construction, the new city-owned lodge is complete, and community members are invited to an open house at 3 p.m. Saturday to explore the new building.
Hogadon Superintendent Chris Smith said the event will include wine-tasting, hors d'oeuvres and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Casper Mayor Kenyne Humphrey, for one, said she can’t wait.
"I'm so excited just to showcase to the community what we built," she said. ”I think it’s beautiful and it looks like it will be durable and be able to stand the test of time.”
The modern, two-story facility features multiple bathrooms, a bar area with indoor and outdoor seating, a spacious dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows and an elevator that makes the building compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Some residents worried that the cost of passes might be raised to help pay for the new building, but Smith said that isn't the case.
Due to additional space, purchasing ski passes, lessons and paying for rentals can now be done at the same location. Bruce Lamberson, the owner of Mountain Sports in Casper and the operator of the lodge’s equipment rental shop, previously told the Star-Tribune that he expects the athletic community will appreciate the streamlined process.
“It’s just going to be so much easier for people,” he said.
Although the project’s $5.3 million price tag generated some controversy when it was approved in spring 2016, Humphrey previously told the Star-Tribune that she thinks most residents have since embraced the idea.
The mayor added that a new facility was sorely needed.
“Hogadon really just kind of started falling apart over the last decade,” she said. “It actually reached a point where the building was structurally unsafe.”
Additionally, the city's hoping the new lodge will appeal to more than just skiers or snowboarders, according to the mayor. Hikers and mountain bikers can use the facility in the warmer months, and the venue can be rented out for holiday parties, weddings or other events all throughout the year.
Although the facility does not yet possess a liquor license, Casper City Council has already started discussing the potential risks involved with serving alcohol at the top of Casper Mountain, given that the drive back to town can be treacherous in the winter.
Council members recently discussed potential ways to reduce the risk of drunk-driving, such as establishing earlier last calls or placing breathalyzers at the facility so patrons can gauge their level of intoxication before driving back.