Uncertainty Over Coming Season Worries Park City Community

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Publish Date

07/30/2014

SAM Magazine—Park City, Utah, July 30, 2014—The ongoing maneuvering by the two sides in the PCMR lease dispute has left the Park City community unsettled. The resort is the major economic engine for the town, and the status of the resort for the coming season remains uncertain. Legal proceedings currently underway may not conclude before the season arrives, prompting community leaders to urge the two sides to publicly guarantee the resort will operate.

Talisker and Vail Resorts (VR) have said they will not oppose a move by Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) to stay the court’s July 1 eviction order, if PCMR should choose to go that route, until the case is ultimately decided by the Utah Supreme Court. That could secure PCMR as the operator for 2014-15. But Talisker/VR would seek a high price for their acquiescence: they would ask the court to require PCMR to post a bond equal to the rent for the past three seasons as well as for the coming season. That’s an amount that could easily run to several million dollars.

PCMR, Talisker, and VR are preparing the legal and financial arguments for such a bond, as well as other issues, ahead of a court-mandated Aug. 15 mediation date. It’s likely the sides will not tip their hands until that date. The judge has stayed enforcement of the eviction until at least Aug. 27 while the two sides pursue a resolution, but could extend that stay through the coming winter season.

According to the Park Record, financial and real estate experts hired by both sides are investigating the lease value of the land and looking at the lease amounts paid by comparable resorts as they try to determine an appropriate bond amount.

Setting that amount is bound to be controversial. Talisker attorney John Lund said that state law requires PCMR to post triple the lease amount in a bond for the 2013-14 ski season and any in the future (like, say, 2014-15). Talisker also wants to include attorney fees and interest in the bond amount as well. The bond is intended to pay for damages in the event that PCMR’s appeal is unsuccessful.

Last week, Talisker, in a prepared statement, asked the judge to "hold a hearing to set the appropriate bond amount as soon as practical so that PCMR can quickly make their decision as to whether they intend to post such bond that would allow them to continue operating next season."

PCMR attorney Alan Sullivan said he hopes Talisker and VR agree with PCMR on "a reasonable bond to the court so that the 2014-2015 season can proceed without interruption."

Fearing that the two sides are still far apart, several prominent businessmen in town wrote an open letter to the various sides a few weeks ago, urging them to guarantee that the season will go forward. In support of that notion, Park City mayor Jack Thomas issued a statement this week urging both sides to compromise and “leave something on the table.” He implied that the Talisker-VR offer fell short.

"Any attempt to lighten the burden of litigation by narrowing the issues is positive and reassuring. Yet it remains unclear what Talisker/Vail is giving up by this action, and provides no solace for the thousands of area residents and businesses who continue to live in uncertainty," Thomas said.


Comments

Agree with Much more...

Jay, your comment really in senseless... what about Talisker? they own the land buddy! would you let someone take over your property w/o a lease or lease payment? I bet not!!

Nasty out of state putting the local out of business

How about Vail/Talisker, trying to squeeze out Park City Resort. They want to put them out of business and take over the resort. If I were Utah, I would be sending an army of inspectors out to inspect every nut and bolt on their lifts, I would audit their tax returns, inspect all of their kitchens for health code violations, etc. Let them know you don't come into Utah and try to run the local company out of business.

Much more to follow...

This piece is but a re-hash of the local Park Record story. The real issues at this time are: A) The two sides have given every indication that they are getting nowhere with mediation. B) The amount of the bond should be sizable... tens of millions, possibly (and justifiably). How big the number is remains unknown and there is fuzziness to how it will be calculated. For instance, will the Judge agree that treble damages are requisite? And what is the amount that should be paid for all of the previous seasons where PCMR was essentially squatting on Talisker's land? Worst case scenario for POWDR is a bond that could be huge. C) The part of the story that SAM is missing, and should delve into if they care to really offer a service to the readers of SAM, is what is going on with POWDR ownership? They are acting as if their personal reputations are unimportant, and as if the tourism brand and reputation of Park City and Utah is of no consequence. Why can this question be framed in this way? Because their chances of winning on appeal are - inarguably - slim and their attitude regarding working out an interim "solution" is - bluntly - "F you!!!" D) The Cumming family now owns a controlling interest in Snowbird, arguably a benchmark for iconic American ski resorts. Of course, their ownership of Killington, Copper, and several other high-profile ski resorts is in the mix as well. There seems to be no connection being made between what has been a miserable and destructive run of decision making and public statements in Park City regarding their PCMR debacle and their connections to these other areas, particularly Snowbird. If POWDR/the Cumming family are willing to go scorched earth in Park City after basically fragging themselves on their lease for the PCMR ski area lands, and have little concern for the bigger picture of Utah skiing, why is there no outrage from the industry - yet? The winter tourism industry is all interconnected and not so large as to be able to painlessly absorb potentially seismic disruptions at a destination as - relatively - popular as Park City. This situation in some strange ways mirrors the forced sale of the LA Clippers by the Sterling family. The differences (2) are striking, however: 1. POWDR was clearly in the wrong legally by not ever renewing their lease for the ski area lands; and 2. The public outrage that swept Donald Sterling over the waterfall is but a tiny trickle at this point w/r/t the Cumming family and what they are causing in Park City. More needs to be examined and highlighted on this incredibly selfish and impudent attitude and its harmful effects on the ski business of Utah.

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