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Vail Offers To Buy Out Park City Mountain

A couple of court hearings scheduled for early next month in the ongoing legal dispute between Park City Mountain Resort and Vail Resorts. This Tuesday, however, Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz offered to buy Park City’s access to the ski mountain and property that Vail Resorts holds a lease to. But Park City says no way to a Vail takeover. KPCW’s Leslie Thatcher has more.

The five-page letter written Tuesday to John Cumming, CEO of Powdr Corp., the parent company of Park City Mountain Resort starts by saying the resolution of this legal dispute is extremely important to the Park City community and he wants to begin a process that is fully transparent to everyone.

Vail CEO, Rob Katz, reiterates Vail Resorts' long time interest in coming to Utah, and when it signed a lease with the land owner, Talisker, back in 2012 to assume operations of Canyons Resort and the ongoing lawsuit with Park City Mountain Resort, the company then hoped that it could be the catalyst to find a solution in both their best interests as well as the guests of the resort and the community.

Just a week after the announcement of ONE Wasatch, which envisions joining all of the central Wasatch ski resorts with one lift ticket, Katz says his company believes that joining both Canyons and Park City Mountain Resort will create a one-of-a kind opportunity that could be a game changer for Park City; Utah, and tourism. Katz thinks that can be done either by Vail purchasing the base and parking facilities for fair market value from Park City, or, if not, Vail would be willing to pay the cost or fair value for all the skier parking and skier facilities as described in the action sports camp Woodward facility – an application that has already been submitted to the Park City Planning Department. In this way, Katz writes, Park City could build and operate the Woodward facility, profit from any residential or commercial development on the site, and provide continued access to the mountain and ski facilities.

If the court rules that Park City’s lease with Talisker has renewed, Katz says his company will offer congratulation and remain very interested in working with the Resort to create a better guest experience at both resorts.

But if the court rules that the lease has expired, then he says there are many ways for Vail Resorts and Park City to work together for everyone’s benefit. If it’s allowed, Vail Resorts he says, absolutely intends to use and operate the ski terrain now leased by Park City. 

Given the concern in the community if Park City loses the lease that it could someone block access to the ski mountain, Katz says he thinks it’s important to let everyone know that’s not going to happen and he can’t even think why Cumming would even consider doing that. As a businessman, he says, Cumming knows that property is far more valuable if skier can access the resort. “Threatening to block access through your property," he wrote, "simply doesn't make good business sense.”

Katz says he remains available to meet at any time even if the resort isn’t interested is selling the base and parking areas. It is Cumming’s financial, legal and the community’s interest to work collaboratively with Vail Resorts, both to maximize the properties and ensure continued access. Blaming Talisker, or calling Vail a bully, he says, is not warranted or constructive. And the phase of litigation will come to a close soon enough.

In response, Park City issued a statement saying it has repeatedly made it clear to Vail that Park City Mountain Resort is interested in exploring all possible solutions that will preserve the independence of PCMR but will not agree to a Vail takeover.

“Vail's domination of the ski market in Summit County," the statement goes on to say, "would be bad for the community, the Resort’s guests and the employees.

"Further, if Vail and Talisker are interested in having a public discussion about their negotiation strategy, then they should be willing to disclose documents to the public which Park City has asked the court to be disclosed.

“People shouldn’t be swayed,” the statement concludes, “by Rob Katz’s attempt to try the merits of this case in the media."

The Resort will present its arguments to the court next week. 

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