A Utah District Court ruled today that Park City Mountain Resort completely failed to renew their very old and very cheap lease (only $155,000 per year for 2,800 acres) and that they have to hand over the land they lease to Vail, the future operator of Park City ski resort.
How did Park City fail to renew their lease on April 30, 2011? No one knows, it seems impossible, but it’s starting to look like it was an enormous oversight.
This will go down as the ski industry’s most costly clerical error in history. Park City Mountain Resort’s operator Powdr Corp had invested over $100 million into the resort and their lease with their landlord Taliskier only cost $155,000 per year for 2,800 acres of land, which is ridiculously cheap. Most ski resorts pay around $3 million for that kind of use on that kind of land.
Now, Vail Resorts has won the right to operate Utah’s most popular ski resort. Park City Mountain Resort was operated by Powdr Corp and now, doesn’t exist. Powdr Corp simply forgot to renew their lease on time and ended up filing their renewal a few days late.
District Court Judge Ryan Harris’ 82-page ruling favored the landowner Talisker Corp today. This legal battle has been going on for 3 years. Vail took over the legal battle for Talisker in exchange for the right to operate Park City ski resort if they win. They won, so Park City is Vail territory. Vail is obviously stoked. They took a risk and it payed off huge.
“Talisker looks forward to bringing in Vail Resorts as its new tenant and operator of the terrain,” – John Lund, Talisker lawyer
Park City ski resort sees about 800,000 skier visits per year.
Powder Corp still owns the access to Park City ski resort and Powdr Corp chief Josh Cummings told the court last month that he’d block access to Park City on his lands. The court ruled against him and stated he has to allow Vail to access Park City ski resort via Powdr Corp’s land.
“It’s now time for PCMR to move on and work out a realistic solution for access to the ski terrain from Park City” – John Lund, Talisker lawyer
All this has really pissed of Josh Cummings.
“We will not walk away and allow a Vail takeover.” – Powdr Corp chief Josh Cummings
Powdr Corp was founded in 1994 when they acquired Park City Mountain Resort.
Powdr Corp still owns the access to Park City ski resort and some of the base area amenities and parking lots.
“And they are not for sale.” – Powdr Corp chief Josh Cummings
“We are committed to ensuring that PCMR has its day in court so it can show that it acted responsibly and in good faith and that its right to use the lands at issue has been extended.” – Park City Mountain Resort lawyer Alan L. Sullivan
There are more law suits between these two rival ski resorts. Supposedly, this decision will not affect the 2014/15 winter season at Park City. We’ll see.
STATEMENTS FROM POWDR CORP:
Statement on PCMR from John D. Cumming, Chief Executive Officer of Powdr Corp
We respect the Court’s decision but at the end of the day it doesn’t change the fact that Vail and PCMR can and must resolve this dispute. For that to happen, both parties will need to sit down at the table, negotiate in good faith, and come to a rational agreement. We are committed to doing exactly that, which is why we have made repeated offers to buy or lease the disputed property for an amount far in excess of market value. But let me be clear: we will not walk away and allow a Vail takeover.
To date, there has been no response to these offers. By picking up where Jack Bistricer and Talisker left off in demanding we sell PCMR at terms they dictate, Vail is demonstrating a fundamental misunderstanding of what this litigation could yield for them. That may explain their willingness to acquire the Canyons at a premium and its corresponding desire to get PCMR on the cheap, but it does not change the basic facts at issue: 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.
Our community has become one of the world’s premier ski destinations because each of our three resorts – PCMR, Canyons, and Deer Valley – offers a unique ski experience, and because we compete with each other for guests. A Vail takeover would diminish what we collectively offer to guests. They may boast of their domination of other communities but that flies in the face of what has made Park City so successful.
We know this dispute has created uncertainty and tension within Park City. We remain hopeful that a rational resolution can be made. In the meantime, we are going to continue to do what we’ve done for the past 50 years: focus on delivering the best possible guest experience, make continued investments like Woodward Park City, and be a responsible part of a community that makes Park City an incredible place to work and live.
Statement on litigation from Alan L. Sullivan, PCMR Lawyer
Park City Mountain Resort is disappointed that the Third District Court for Summit County ruled in favor of Talisker and Vail on claims related to the leases, right of first refusal and ban on sale. While we are respectful of the Court, we believe there are significant factual disputes which require a trial and at the appropriate time we intend to appeal these rulings. We have always anticipated a lengthy legal process to resolve this litigation. We are committed to ensuring that PCMR has its day in court so it can show that it acted responsibly and in good faith and that its right to use the lands at issue has been extended.
In the meantime, we expect that PCMR will operate business as usual for the 2014-15 season. We believe that no action affecting the operation of the Resort can occur until the appeals are completed, which is likely to take at least another year. Vail’s motion for partial summary judgment on their unlawful detainer counterclaim, which requests the eviction of PCMR from the upper slopes of the mountain, puts the cart before the horse: the litigation must be allowed to reach its conclusion first. The Court has scheduled a hearing on the unlawful detainer counterclaim for June 19.