Sunday, September 14, 2014

Vail Buys Park City - Big Changes for Utah Ski Industry and Property Sales?

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THE NEWS

A headline posted on ParkRecord.com exclaims "Vail Resorts puts Park City Mountain Resort in its Epic lineup."  The article, which appeared on September 12, goes on the explain the basics of the deal and mention some of the anticipated changes that could occur.  And of course there are other possible changes caused by the sale that were not mentioned that could have wide-ranging effects on the Utah Ski Industry, property transactions, and demographics.     

The ParkRecord article states "The Cumming family, which played a major role in establishing Park City's reputation as a world-class destination resort and Olympic venue, has sold its flagship ski area, Park City Mountain Resort, to Vail Resorts, for $182.5 million."  Nan Chalat Noaker, the author of the article, reports that the "agreement includes the base facilities, parking lots, ski terrain and lifts, water rights and snowmaking equipment owned by Greater Park City Company and an independently owned strip of land on the terrain just above the base held by Ian Cumming.  It does not include Powdr's Gorgoza Tubing Park located on Interstate 80 near Kimball Junction."

The sale, anticipated for some time, ends a bitter lawsuit between Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) and Talisker Land Holdings LLC, resulting from PCMR missing a lease renewal date and Talisker subsequently refusing to renew its' lease to operate the resort.  Talisker is aligned with Vail Resorts, and many local residents and ski industry insiders have thought the sale inevitable once Vail Resorts took over the management of The Canyons and PCMR could not renew their lease.

In the article, Vail CEO Rob Katz states that the near future will include a chairlift that will connect the Canyons and Park City Mountain Resort, and he hopes it will be operational for the 2015/2016 season.  When completed this would create the largest ski resort in the United States.

 An immediate benefit to season ticket holders at PCMR and Canyons will be that their season passes will not only be honored, but can be upgraded to the Vail Epic season pass and its' 20 additional resorts.  Holders of the Epic pass in participating areas will also be able to use the passes at PCMR and Canyons.

As for possible and rumored developments related to the sale, there are more than a few.  Will Vail add significant development around the resort and fulfill some locals' fears of more congestion and crowds?  Will this cause a number of residents to move to quieter, less crowded areas (The Ogden Valley and Snowbasin/Powder Mountain?) when the added congestion arrives?  Or will they leave just on the probabilities?  In any case the real estate market in a number of markets might well be affected. Will the Epic Pass cause Salt Lake City and other Wasatch front residents to switch their allegiance to the Park City ski area...or away from it?  Will the availability of the Epic Pass affect the season pass strategy and prices at other Utah ski resorts?  There are hard feelings among some current Park City residents that are not likely to soften quickly.

According to Noaker, Vail's Mountain Division President Blaise Carrig "is serving as interim chief operating officer until a new resort president is named."




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