It’s a corporate debacle every skier has caught a whiff of but that no one has a taste for. PCMR (Park City Mountain Resort) had an epic fail in April of 2011 when it forgot to renew its lease on the land where the ski resort lives. Understanding the value of the property and seizing a perfect opportunity, Talisker, owners of the mountain, set the gold mine on the table for Vail Resorts to eat up.
In the beginning, PCMR seemed to think that this whole thing was “an honest mistake” and could be cleaned up by post dating a few key documents in order to move forward with the renewal process. What they didn’t realize is that Talisker had already seen dollar signs. A lease that has a history dating back to the 1970’s and includes 3,500 acres of land has been considered one of the best lease deals in the ski business – costing a mere $150,000 a year. So how do you mess that up? Well, it is a bit unclear as to how this failure occurred but as soon as the snowball formed it gained speed downhill, fast.
Talisker sold the land to Vail resorts for 25 million dollars and a portion of its annual revenue. Vail, who has stepped into the Utah ski scene recently by acquiring Canyons Resort, sees big opportunity with a PCMR addition. The ability to combine Canyons with PCMR (which is doable with one ski lift) would create a mega resort boasting just under 8,000 acres of skiable terrain. This would not only give Vail Resorts a chance to offer their Epic Pass holders even more terrain per pass, it would make them the biggest players in Utah’s ski business.
As the fire burns bright for Vail, PCMR and their corporate owners Powdr Corp. are trying to douse the flames. Claiming they should have been offered the chance to acquire the land first, PCMR has been appealing in court for over two years. The battle really spiced up after PCMR threatened to tear down the lifts and restrict access to the base area of the resort, which would leave many local and seasonal workers jobless. Although Talisker owns the mountain, PCMR still owns the infrastructure, base area land, and parking lots. This somewhat outrageous attempt to gain steam in the current battle will most likely never happen.
A resort that employs around 4,600 people and generates up to 4.1 million dollars in taxes for the town, reminds us that this isn’t just about the resorts and corporations bickering. Originally, people in town we’re told the resort would open during the appeals process but this is still unclear as ski season looms, just five months away. Not only will the employees suffer with a non -operating resort, but without skiers the restaurants, locals business, events, and overall tourism would be hit hard.
In June of this year, a judge sided with Talisker and Vail Resorts to evict PCMR from the land they have called home for over 30 years. Although a decision was reached, the court ordered the two parties into mediation, forcing them to try and come to a mutual agreement. The final hearing date is set for August 27th and could be the end of this tiring ordeal. If PCMR decides they are willing to sell the property and infrastructure they own, Utah’s skiing community can expect an influx of Vail Resort’s season pass holders. With this well-known and skier-cherished terrain on the table people are watching closely to see what will happen come opening day.
Although most are ready for this to be over, I’m sure there are a few backcountry powder hounds hoping to get some time on the resort while the doors remained closed.