Southeastern Minnesota could become a new hotspot for ski jumping.
The Goodhue County Board of Commissioners this week approved a developer's plans to build a ski jump big enough to be used for Olympic trials on land owned by the Prairie Island Indian Community near Red Wing.
The ski tower and jump would anchor a new recreational area next to the existing Mount Frontenac Golf Course. According to county documents, the project would also include a zip line course, downhill tubing, a restaurant at the top of the ski tower, and possibly a cross country ski trail on the golf course.
A second phase of the project could add an outdoor concert space, mountain biking trails, and a disc golf course, developers say. The site occupies more than 420 acres and is about six miles south of Red Wing.
Economic boost predicted
Business leaders in the Red Wing area say the ski jump would bring visitors that would give the region an economic boost.
At Tuesday's public hearing former Red Wing mayor Dennis Egan, who is working with the developer, said the $18 million project is likely to draw about 60,000 people a year, the Rochester Post Bulletin reports. He said national and international ski jumping organizations have agreed to hold competitions there once it's built.
As for the timeline, Egan told MPR News: "In a perfect world, we would actually start moving dirt in May of this year and then opening phase one in February or March of next year."
Red Wing has a ski jumping history
The group Friends of American Ski Jumping is working with the Prairie Island Community (which is a Dakota band) on the project. The tribe owns a nearby casino as well as the golf course.
The Friends group opened the American Ski Jumping Hall of Fame and Museum in Red Wing a few years ago. It's on the mezzanine level of the St. James Hotel.
Their website explains that in 1887 Red Wing was the site of one of the first ski jumping competitions in the U.S.