Saddleback ski resort announced on its website Friday it expects a sale to a “prospective new owner” and plans to open in late January.

The posting also said that skiers who purchased season passes can request a full refund immediately, since the resort will open a month later than usual. Season pass holders who choose to wait for the resort to open “will receive an additional 50% resort credit bonus” that can be used toward items such as meals, lift tickets, lessons and equipment rentals – or toward future season passes.

Saddleback, located outside Rangeley in western Maine, announced in July that it would close if it could not secure $3 million to replace an aging chairlift. The owners, Bill and Irene Berry, were unable to get the financing, but by early September said they were exploring options to sell the resort.

Friday’s statement was the first in months on the resort’s future.

“Our prospective new owner and the Berry family feel confident that we will complete a transaction – opening by late January,” the posting said.

Saddleback general manager Chris Farmer would not comment Friday other than to say, “This is our plan and we feel good about it.”

Dec. 19 marks the traditional opening day of the mountain, which Farmer said is why the mountain’s owners wanted to let season pass holders know where they stood in the sale of the mountain.

In the past 15 years the Berry family has invested $40 million in the ski area. Farmer told the Portland Press Herald in July the owners also have operated the resort at a financial deficit for the past six years. Mark Berry, son of Bill and Irene, said that Saddleback has drawn between 80,000 and 100,000 skiers annually for the past four years. The ski resort has been the third largest employer in Franklin County during the winters with more than 300 seasonal workers.

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