Powdr Corp. has sold its Park City Mountain Resort to Vail Resorts for $182.5 million, ending a year of drama for the entire town. According to reports, the deal requires Vail Resorts to retain Park City Mountain Resort employees. Vail President Blaise Carrig arrived in Park City yesterday to calm PCMR employees and the community over concerns for the future of the ski area.
“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,” Powdr chief executive John Cumming said in a statement. “A sale was the only way to provide long-term certainty for PCMR employees and the Park City community.”
Cumming launched his now seven-resort Powdr empire in Park City in 1994. Park City Mountain Resort grew into one of the most popular ski areas in North America. But Powdr in April 2011 was a few days late in renewing its longterm lease with Talisker for more than 2,800 acres of upper terrain at Park City Mountain Resort. That lease, which dated back to the 1970s, was a sweetheart deal which allowed PCMR to pay roughly $150,000 a year. Failing to properly file paperwork renewing its 20-year lease will go down in history as the ski industry’s most costly legal error.
Talisker moved on the opportunity to oust Powdr and find a new tenant. Vail promised Talisker $25 million a year plus a share of revenue for the 4,000-acre Canyons, with an eye toward taking over Park City Mountain Resort and creating the largest single ski area in the country.
A Utah judge in May evicted Powdr from two-thirds of Park City Mountain Resort’s skiable terrain, but stayed the order while Vail and Powdr discussed a potential agreement. A compromise seemed unlikely right up to Powdr agreeing to post a $17.5M bond earlier this week.
Vail will include Park City Mountain Resort as part of its wildly popular Epic Pass, which now offers skiing at 22 ski areas. Vail capitalized its May 2013 deal with Talisker for Canyons resort — a 50-year lease — at $306 million. With another $183 million for PCMR, Vail Resorts picked up more than 7,000 acres of ski terrain in Utah for roughly $489 million.
Vail Resorts’ focus now is connecting Canyons with Park City Mountain Resort. Connection would require a short lift, which needs approval from leaders of Park City and Summit County, Utah. Vail hopes to erect the short lift next summer, in time for the 2015-16 ski season. When completed, it would create the largest ski mountain in the U.S., even larger than Vail at 7,000 acres. Vail will operate both resorts separately this winter. The company has yet to strategize future marketing or branding plans that could lead to a name change.