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Editorial: Owners must keep Park City Resort operating

Utah needs Park City resort to open.

First Published Jul 30 2014 05:21 pm • Last Updated Jul 30 2014 05:32 pm

The ski industry titans facing off over Park City Mountain Resort may be headed to a truce that would allow the resort to open for the season, and that is a necessity for Park City and the rest of the state.

The idea is to allow the owner of PCMR to post a bond to cover costs incurred by Talisker Corp., which is PCMR’s landlord for 2,800 acres of its ski terrain. 

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This situation was created after PCMR’s owner, Powdr Corp., made one of the most monumental blunders in Utah business history, failing to renew its lease with Talisker in 2011. How bad was it? PCMR had a sweetheart deal for the ages, paying a mere $155,000 per year for use of the 2,800 acres, and the renewals went out to the year 2051. Now PCMR is looking at perhaps millions of dollars per year in rent, if it can get Talisker to agree at all. 

Powdr Corp. is now fighting an eviction notice from Talisker. A judge has ordered the two parties to find a solution, but he is not giving much weight to Powdr’s arguments. If a deal is to be made — whether a long-term lease or the short-term bond — it will be Powdr who has to bend the most to make it work.

That’s because Talisker has another option, and it’s a powerful one. Talisker also owns Canyons Ski Resort northwest of PCMR, and it has contracted with ski heavyweight Vail Corp. to run it. Vail has made it clear that it would be willing to run PCMR in addition to Canyons. 

Powdr still has one piece of leverage, PCMR’s base facilities, which it owns outright. PCMR could try to operate without Talisker’s acreage, but it would be a mere shadow of what it has been. And Vail could perhaps one day access PCMR’s 2,800 acres from its base at Canyons, but it wouldn’t have the same economic benefit without the base facilities in Park City.

There really is no other decent scenario for PCMR’s coming ski season but to let Powdr operate the full resort for another year. The bond is a temporary measure that allows Powdr’s expected appeal to work through Utah’s court system while a long-term solution is found, and that solution may or may not include Powdr.

Bottom line here is that Park City’s ski resort must open. The damage from a missed season would be large and perhaps permanent, stretching beyond Summit County to affect hotels and other businesses on the Wasatch Front. Patrons of ski resorts, particularly the well-heeled ones who come here to spend thousands of dollars, have too many outstanding options. They have the ability to find new experiences and even sell their Park City properties and move on.

Make this deal, titans. Doing any less makes you poor corporate citizens.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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