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Vail Resorts Inc. has acquired Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) from Utah-based Powdr Corp. for $182.5 million.
The announcement Thursday came after three years of litigation between PCMR and its landlord, Talisker Land Holdings, Inc., that also leases nearby Canyons Resort to Vail.
Powdr Corp. had operated PCMR for two decades but missed by several days a 20-year lease renewal deadline of April 30, 2011, on 2,852 acres of ski terrain. Fearing eviction, PCMR filed suit against Talisker later that year.
The upcoming ski season at PCMR will be "business as usual," said Rob Katz, chairman and CEO of Vail Resorts. All resort employees will keep their jobs with the exception of top management, he said.
Park City Mayor Jack Thomas says the deal provides long-elusive certainty for residents of the resort town and surrounding area who had looked on with their livelihoods in the balance.
"We're very pleased," the mayor said. "This really secures Park City's economic future. This provides certainty for every family and every small business."
The acquisition also sets the stage for what could become the largest ski resort in the country, when PCMR is connected with Canyons. That will not occur this year, Katz said, but it will take shape as soon as possible.
"It's an opportunity to create for Utah an iconic destination," he said in an interview.
Powdr Corp. made the sale reluctantly, according to a statement from CEO John Cumming.
"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," he said.
"A sale was the only way to provide long-term certainty for PCMR employees and the Park City community. My family and I are extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to play a role in making PCMR what it is today, and we deeply appreciate the dedicated employees and all of the people who have supported us over the years."
John Cumming's father, Ian Cumming, bought controlling interest in Snowbird Ski & Summer resort in May.
The acquisition of PCMR was on Vail's wish list since leasing the nearby Canyons from Talisker in 2013. The $25 million annual lease rate included the potential to operate PCMR.
Earlier this year, 3rd District Judge Ryan Harris ruled in Talisker's favor on key parts of the case, setting the stage for an eviction.
But Powdr Corp. owned the base acreage and facilities without which the resort could not be operated. The stalemate put PCMR's ski season in doubt, potentially devastating the local economy.
Earlier this week, however, Powdr Corp. agreed to post a $17.5 million bond that would allow it to continue to operate the resort through the coming ski season, as litigation dragged on. While that brought relief to anxious townsfolk, it left the dispute unresolved.
At the Main Street Deli, owner and operator Mike Lindbloom said Park City residents and business people could go back to living their normal lives after the tumultuous months leading up to the acquisition.
"I'm not excited about somebody owning two out of our three resorts [including Deer Valley]," he said. "But I'm excited about not having to go through this circus for another year. It's nice for everyone to know the future."
Pat Sweeney, who along with his brothers owns property and businesses at the Town Lift Plaza between Park Avenue and Main Street, said the acquisition is "good news and bad news."
"We're saying goodbye to some folks we liked and enjoyed," he said. "The good news is, everybody can breathe a sigh of relief and get on with things."
Word of the acquisition spread through Park City like wildfire Thursday, said Karleen Reilly at the Uptown Fare cafe.
"Everybody who has walked in is happy," she said. "But we're wondering why they put us through this. It's all about money and playing games."
A lot of folks in town are excited about Vail's Epic Local Pass, Reilly said. It will allow skiers and snowboarders unlimited access to PCMR and Canyons for $569, and is accepted at another half dozen Western ski resorts.
Vail's Epic Pass costs $749 and is good at 12 ski resorts across the countryand at several European and Asian ski areas.
Canyon's four- and five-day passes also will be good at both ski areas.
The lease at the center of the dispute goes back to the early 1970s, when then-Park City Ski Area leased the terrain from United Park City Mines. In 1975, the parties clarified that the agreement would end April 30, 1991, but the $155,000 annual lease could be extended by three 20-year terms to 2051.
Powdr Corp. purchased Park City Ski Area in 1994 and renamed it Park City Mountain Resort. Canada-based Talisker acquired United Park City Mines in 2003.