Vail Resorts trying to evict Park City ski area
PARK CITY, Utah — It’s a battle of ski resort titans that could bring a hostile takeover at Park City Mountain Resort.
A company managed by Vail Resorts Inc. is trying to evict the Park City resort from 3,700 acres of ski terrain — a fight that will continue in court Friday afternoon.
Vail Resorts recently took over neighboring Canyons ski area from Talisker Corp., a longtime real-estate operator around Park City that owns much of the land at Park City Mountain Resort.
The Vail/Talisker combination argues that Park City Mountain Resort waited too long to renew a sweetheart lease granted decades ago by a mining company. Park City Mountain Resort was served an eviction notice Aug. 28 demanding it get off the land and leave chair lifts and ski lodges behind.
On Friday, 3rd District Judge Ryan Harris will hear a fight over documents Park City Mountain Resort says its opponent is not entitled to receive as the case moves toward a Dec. 5 trial.
The dispute escalated last week when a former Vail Resorts’ lawyer, acting for Talisker Land Holdings LLC, accused Park City Mountain Resort of backdating a letter to make it appear it had renewed its lease for 29 years.
Under that lease, Park City Mountain Resort pays just $155,000 a year for its ski terrain.
Canyons officials have said they pay $3 million a year to lease much of their ski area from independent landowners. And Vail says it’s paying $25 million a year for rights to operate Canyons, Utah’s largest ski area. With that, Vail is taking up the fight against Park City Mountain Resort — some call it a hostile takeover attempt.
Vail said last week it wasn’t trying to “take any action that would prevent PCMR’s ability to operate their resort during the upcoming 2013-2014 ski season.”
Vail chief Rob Katz told investors in May the possibility of taking over Park City Mountain Resort “could add significant value to our opportunity” in Utah. The Colorado-based company is entering the Utah ski market for the first time.
An escalating lease dispute could damage Park City’s economy, a major tourist hub. Park City has three ski areas, including independently owned Deer Valley. Like the others, Park City Mountain Resort continues to offer season passes for sale.
The fight began in March 2012 when the parent company for Park City Mountain Resort filed a lawsuit in seeking a court declaration that it properly renewed the lease and can’t be evicted or charged higher rent.
The recent eviction notice is “nothing more than a bald-faced attempt to circumvent the litigation already in process and interfere with our business,” Jenni Smith, president and general manager of Park City Mountain Resort, said last week. “We will not give in to Vail’s bullying, and look forward to conducting business as usual for the 2013-14 season.”
Vail Resorts operates 10 ski areas, including four in Colorado.
Park City Mountain Resort is owned by Powdr Corp., which operates seven major U.S. ski areas, from Vermont’s Killington to Oregon’s Mt. Bachelor.