Updated: Thursday, 12 Apr 2012, 6:37 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 12 Apr 2012, 3:36 PM EDT
NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) - The future of the Maid of the Mist is still unknown for Chris Glynn, owner of the historic business.
The boats set sail for the first time in 2012 on Thursday. Maid of the Mist recently lost a 30-year contract to run tours in Canada worth $500 million to California-based Hornblower. Now, the company's future remains up in the air because Hornblower controls the docks, which are on the Canadian side, and doesn't want to share them with Maid of the Mist boats.
"We were obviously very disappointed. And I don't know what else to say beyond that," said Glynn.
In 2014, Maid of the Mist will lose access to the docks and storage facilities on the Canadian side of the river. To stay in business, the company would need to build new docks on the American side.
However, state parks officials have said it's unlikely for a dock to be built on the American side of the falls. But the Glynns have put forward more proposals, which would allow them to dock two boats. Glynn said he has support from some lawmakers, but wouldn't say who.
The dock would be down river from the American dock, right now at the Shoellkoph Power plant.
"Right now it is our desire to operate through the end of our contract over there, and then we will vacate the property. I would say it is uncertain on to how this will all play out," said Glynn.
In an average season, the Maid of the Mist sees about one million people, generating around $15 million for the company.
Ticket prices on the American side went up this season to $15. On the Canadian side, prices went up to nearly $20, with a mandatory elevator fee. That was a sticking point for Glynn, which is why it was unclear if the boats would run this season.