*Update: On Tuesday, PCMR announced that it would pay the bond required to keep the resort open through the 2014-15 season. “I am very happy that the resort will be open this year,” Jenni Smith, resort president and general manager, told the Deseret News. "While the most important outcome today is that PCMR will be open for business, the bond payment is only a short-term solution for the 2014-15 season. As such, we will continue working with Vail toward a reasonable and fair long-term solution.”
A judge in Utah's Third District ruled on Friday that Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) must post a $17.5 million bond to its landlord*, Talisker Land Holdings, to operate during the 2014-2015 season. The decision comes four months after Talisker Land Holdings was granted the right to evict PCMR after its parent company, Powdr Corporation, was several days late in submitting crucial paperwork to renew the resort's lease.
The decision, reported in the Denver Post, is seen as a stopgap measure while PCMR appeals its eviction. Though the 50-year-old resort owns a third of its operating territory outright, the threat of being shut down or taken over looms large. In March, Vail Resorts, which leases the adjacent Canyons resort area from Talisker, offered to buy the base and parking facilities from PCMR and retain a third-party appraiser to establish a fair price for the land's value. As the largest ski resort company in North America, Vail Resorts has long shown interest in combining PCMR with its other holdings in the area, operating on an economy of scale and drawing longer-term visitors by offering a Park City-wide Epic Pass. (Writing in Outside in late May, Marc Peruzzi called the hypothetical pass "insanely affordable" for its value.)
But Powdr Corporation, which until 2011 held a $150,000-per-year lease with Talisker, is unlikely to go down easy. CEO John Cumming flatly rejected Vail's March buyout offer and has publicly toyed with the idea of converting his remaining acreage into an action-sports training facility, modeled after Copper Mountain Resort, which Powdr acquired in 2009. Nor has Cumming ruled out the possibility of ripping out his chairlifts rather than allow Vail Resorts to use them, a possibility that has aroused anxiety among Park City's visitors and tourist-based businesses.