Andrew Meehan, Canyons Ski Resort
PARK CITY — The conflict between two popular Summit County ski areas has reached a new level of acrimony.
Earlier this week, Park City Mountain Resort was served with an eviction notice by the Summit County sheriff. At issue is the expiration of leases for 2,800 acres of ski terrain on land controlled by the operators of neighboring Canyons ski resort.
In May, Vail Resorts announced that the company had entered into a long-term lease with affiliate companies of Talisker Corp., which owned Canyons Resort in Park City.
Under the lease, Vail Resorts assumed all resort operations of Canyons, and Talisker retained its development rights for 4 million square feet of real estate at the resort.
The transaction also incorporated the potential for the lease to include land under the ski terrain of Park City Mountain Resort adjacent to Canyons. The land is owned by Talisker but subject to the pending litigation filed by Park City Mountain Resort in March 2012.
Talisker, a longtime real-estate operator around Park City, owned much of the ski terrain at Park City Mountain Resort, which leased 3,700 acres of upper-mountain land for ski lifts, lodges and slopes. Talisker said the leases expired in 2011.
It is unclear how or why Park City Mountain Resort let Talisker snatch up its prime ski terrain. Park City had leased the ski lands from United Park City Mines since the 1960s, but Talisker bought the mining company in 2003 and became the landlord.
However, Park City Mountain Resort filed a lawsuit last year, claiming it renewed the leases in a proper and timely manner. The matter is now in court.
According to Vail Resorts, the eviction notice was a perfunctory legal matter. However, Park City Mountain Resort took exception and issued a strongly worded response to the action.
"Vail's eviction notice is nothing more than a bald-faced attempt to circumvent the litigation already in process and interfere with our business,” said Jenni Smith, president and general manager of Park City Mountain Resort. “We will not give in to Vail's bullying and look forward to conducting business as usual for the 2013-14 season."
In 2012, Park City resort accused Talisker of trying to drive it out of business by refusing to extend the leases for years longer, a claim Talisker — and now Vail Resorts — denies.
“Talisker issued Park City Mountain Resort the notice to quit as a necessary legal step to bring this issue to the court and we anticipate that there will be a number of actions required to bring this dispute to closure,” said Kelly Ladyga, vice president of corporate communications for Vail Resorts Management Company. “With that said, there is no intent by Talisker to take any action that would prevent PCMR's ability to operate their resort during the upcoming 2013-2014 ski season. We are very cognizant of the importance of this situation to the entire Park City community and we look forward to bringing this situation and its uncertainty to a conclusion."
In 2009, Talisker bought Canyons Resort from American Skiing Co. Neither side revealed the terms of the negotiations, but according to its lawsuit, Park City Mountain Resort had been paying $155,000 annually in rent for the land. Canyons officials said they pay $3 million a year to lease much of their ski resort from independent landowners.
Regarding this latest conflict, Vail Resorts said it was troubled by the handling of the situation by Park City Mountain Resort.
“We have an obligation to protect and preserve Talisker’s and our interest in this matter,” Ladyga said. “We are concerned with the behavior that Park City Mountain Resort has demonstrated.”
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