Utah ski resort sold amid long legal battle

AP News
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Posted: Sep 11, 2014 1:49 PM

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — One of Utah's largest ski areas was sold to Vail Resorts Inc. Thursday, resolving a legal battle between two ski titans and paving the way for the creation of what could be the country's largest resort.

The $182.5 million deal, effective immediately, gives Vail the base area and parking lot at Park City Mountain Resort, as well as lifts and snowmaking equipment. The Colorado-based company is already leasing the upper 3,000 acres of slopes, but couldn't use them without the base area owned by Powdr Corp.

The sale will allow Vail to connect Park City with the adjacent Canyons ski area, which it also leased from real estate company Talisker.

When the two resorts are connected with a lift in the future, the resulting 7,000-acre resort will be the largest in the country, said Vail CEO Rob Katz.

"This is one of the most impactful opportunities our company has ever had," said Katz.

For the upcoming season, Vail will operate the two resorts separately. They'll honor Park City passes or allow skiers to exchange their passes for the company's $749 Epic Pass, which is good at all 22 of the resorts. The company will maintain the two names in the future, but the connection between the two will be seamless, said Katz.

Powdr Corp. CEO John Cumming said the company entered the deal reluctantly, but it will give security to the city and the 2,000 employees who will stay in their current jobs.

"Selling was the last thing we wanted to do, and while we believe the law around this issue should be changed, a protracted legal battle is not in line with our core value to be good stewards of the resort communities in which we operate," Cumming said in a statement.

A judge ordered Park City evicted from the slopes in May after ruling the long-running fixture had missed a deadline to renew a decades-old sweetheart lease it got from a mining company. Though they continued the court battle, the two sides also started court-ordered mediation talks.

The resolution of the legal battle should also give relief to Park City residents and business owners concerned about the future of the resort that bears the town's name and drives millions of dollars in sales to the local economy.

Vail's 10 resorts also include properties in the Midwest and the Lake Tahoe area. Powdr owns seven major U.S. ski areas, from Vermont's Killington to Oregon's Mount Bachelor.