The snow has melted, and things are heated in Utah’s Park City. After months of deliberation, and years of an ongoing dispute between Talisker and Park City Mountain Resort, a Utah judge ruled May 21, 2014 that Park City Mountain Resort missed its ski terrain lease renewal in 2011, and the three subsequent years. In September of 2014, Vail Resorts purchased Park City Mountain Resort for $182 million, see the story here including how Park City is now part of the Epic Pass with 12 Vail operated ski resorts.
The judge also ruled that Park City Mountain Resort ’s owner, Powdr Corp, was not denied the first right of refusal to operate Canyons Resort prior to Talisker reaching their deal with Vail Resorts. Talisker owns much of Park City Mountain Resort ‘s ski terrain, and operates the abutting Canyons Resorts which they recently leased to Vail Resorts.
According to Ski Area Management, CEO of Powdr John Cumming said in response to this court decision “Even if Vail ultimately prevails in this litigation, it cannot possibly operate a resort on the leased property. They do not own the adjacent lands and facilities that are essential for ski operations to take place. And they are not for sale.” See September 2014 update, Powdr did sell to Vail Resorts.
There is no dispute that Park City Mountain Resort does own the base facilities where Park City Mountain Resort ‘s ski lifts emanate from. But as a result of this ruling, it cannot operate on the majority of the ski terrain – for which a $150,000 a year lease was offered in 2011 but not renewed by Park City Mountain Resort. Therefore any rate, term or right of access has expired according to the judgment. In an open letter in March of 2014 by Robert Katz ,Vail Resort CEO, Vail Resorts had been “willing to purchase the base and parking facilities from Park City Mountain Resort ” at fair market value. Powdr Corp continues to appear to have no interest in this. Re: Powdr, that’s not a typo- that’s how the corporation name is spelled – not Powder.
Powdr and Park City Mountain Resort have referenced Vail as a bully, saying Vail was looking for a “steal of a deal” and that Vail would monopolize this Utah ski region if they operated two of Park City’s three ski resorts.
Powdr and Park City Mountain Resort will appeal, and say they plan to operate this season as usual. Meanwhile Vail Resorts and Talisker are looking for a negotiated settlement and back rent for the unpaid lease of terrain dating back to 2011. While Vail owns and operates 10 ski resorts – Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado ski country, and Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in California, Powdr owns 9 from Mt Bachelor in Oregon to Pak City Mountain Resort, Ski Las Vegas, and Killington/Pico in Vermont. Ian Cumming, founder of Powdr, recently bought majority share of Snowbird Utah in May from Dick Bass… but that deal reportedly will not be part of Powdr’s ski resort conglomerate…
As for future plans at Park City Mountain Resort, Vail Resorts expressed full support of One Wasatch, Ski Utah’s proposal to interconnect seven Utah ski resorts, Snowbird, Alta, Solitude, Brighton, Deer Valley, Park City Mountain Resort, and Canyons using six lifts, all on private land and with private funding, on one ski pass. ONE Wasatch if approved by public and state permitting would be European like in its vast ski connection of unique resorts, to include 18,000 ski-able acres, 700 trails, and 100 lifts connecting Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons and Park City.
Currently, Deer Valley and Alta, while willing participants in the Wasatch interconnect, do not allow snowboarders. But that’s another pending lawsuit in Utah – snowboarders claiming that Alta’s snowboard ban is discrimination on US Forest Service land. Wow, can’t everyone in Utah get along? Do we need a ski group hug?
Heather Burke, 2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips