Holy hostile takeover. There’s a legal battle brewing in Park City, Utah and while the definitive end isn’t in sight, a big break took place last week in favor of Vail Resorts. So what exactly is going on? Powdr Corp, the operator of Park City Mountain Resort, and Talisker Corp, the majority landowner of the historic ski area, have been caught up in convoluted court proceedings for the past three years over who the rightful operator of the resort should be. Much to PCMR’s chagrin, Vail Resorts is leading the charge.
How did we get here?
Due to a clerical error in 2011, Powdr Corp failed to refile its lease on time, missing the deadline by a few days, thus voiding their lease agreement with Talisker Corp. This opened up the opportunity to find a new tenant, leading Talisker to partner with Vail Resorts. Powdr Corp then sued Talisker to try to force a new lease on its behalf and from there a heavy battle has ensued.
What are the latest happenings?
On May 21, District Court Judge Ryan Harris ruled in favor of Talisker Corp, giving Vail Resorts the rights to more than two-thirds of the land that Park City Mountain Resort operates on. This is the latest and most dramatic turn in the case, which inches Vail closer to having total control of the resort.
Who has rights to what?
The recent rulings grant Vail Resorts access to the upper portion of the resort, but a majority of the lower section of the resort, including the base village and parking lots, are still privately owned by Powdr Corp. Vail has offered to buy this additional land, but Powdr’s chief John Cumming has refused to sell the land, and even said he would go as far as ripping out the lifts on the top part if Vail wins the lawsuit.
What does the money trail tell us?
Powdr Corp only paid around $150,000 a year to Talisker to operate PCRM because of a grandfathered lease that had been in place since the ‘70s. In contrast, Vail Resorts pays over 25 million dollars a year plus a percentage of revenue to Tasliker to lease/operate the nearby Canyon’s Resort.
What are the next steps?
Powdr has put in a motion to appeal this current ruling and it appears it will not go down without a fight. John Cummings, Powdr’s chief, told the Park City Reporter, “we will not walk away and allow a Vail takeover.” In response, Talisker’s attorney, John Lund, offered this statement to the press:
“We are very pleased with the Court’s ruling today, reaffirming that Talisker’s leases with PCMR (Park City Mountain Resort) expired on April 30, 2011, more than three years ago. Talisker is also pleased that the Court has denied PCMR’s claims that Talisker violated any provisions of the lease, including with regard to any right of refusals. Talisker looks forward to bringing in Vail Resorts as its new tenant and operator of the terrain. By pursuing this lawsuit, PCMR caused years of unnecessary uncertainty for the Park City community and its guests. It’s now time for PCMR to move on and work out a realistic solution for access to the ski terrain from Park City. Talisker also looks forward to concluding the rest of the court case, including working out the amount of back rent and damages owed to Talisker by PCMR.”
How will this affect next season?
It’s tough to conclude just exactly how this will all play out, but according to Park City’ Mountain’s Resort’s attorney, Alan L. Sullivan, the appeal process will likely take a year or more, so the the resort will operate normally as PCMR through the 2014/15 season.
What do you think? Would be a better operator? Or should Powdr Corp continue to run the resort? Or does it matter?