Snowmobiling means big bucks for state economy
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. That's the wish of many New York snowmobilers after last winter flaked out in the snow department. But, it's not just a desire to hit the trails that has people hoping for a storm or two. Our Sarah Blazonis tells us about the healthy boost the sport offers to the state economy.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- All you have to do is look around this year's Big East Powersports Show to get an idea of how much Central New Yorkers love their snowmobiles.
"I just like the freedom of no signs, no roads," said Dave Sammon Syracuse resident.
"You know, you're off in the middle of nowhere. You shut the machine off, it's so calm and peaceful out there," said Mitch Blaakman, Blossvale resident.
And they're more than willing to pay for that experience. New Yorkers spend $868 million per year on snowmobiling. That's according to a study done by the SUNY Potsdam Institute for Applied Research for the State Snowmobiling Association.
Walking around the Power Sports Show, it's easy to see how costs can add up. You've got to make sure you have a good winter coat, a hat, gloves, and, of course, snow pants. But NYSSA officials said it's the money spent while wearing these accessories that can make the biggest economic impact.
Towns in areas like the Adirondacks rely on the money that snowmobilers spend in local stores and restaurants.
"During the winter, the only economy they have pretty much is snowmobiling. 2012 was a tough season. There wasn't a lot of snow, and it hurt a lot of businesses," said Gary Broderick, President of the New York State Snowmobile Association.
Registered snowmobiles were down by 45,000 this season, leaving a $2 million hole in funds used for trail upkeep.
Some said the turnout at this year's show gives them hope for the coming season.
"Snowmobiles are a lot higher quality than they used to be. All the manufacturers here, everybody has really nice machines, so it's easier to convince people to come and ride," said Landon Rasmussen, whose family owns Rasmussen Snowmobile Rentals in Georgetown.
But, mainly they are hoping a snowy season will help them earn some extra green.