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Park City Mountain Resort losing terrain in lease lawsuit

Published: Wednesday, May 21 2014 7:05 p.m. MDT

Thousands of acres of ski terrain seem to have slipped away from Park City Mountain Resort when a judge ruled on the several-year Wednesday.

Lee Benson

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PARK CITY — Thousands of acres of ski terrain seem to have slipped away from Park City Mountain Resort when a judge ruled on the several-year battle Wednesday.

Following nearly three heated years, 3rd District Judge Ryan Harris ruled that Park City Mountain Resort let its lease expire in 2011, leaving 2,800 acres of ski terrain up for grabs.

"The court, at least as much as most members of the Summit County community, had certainly hoped that the parties to this litigation would have been able to find a way … to resolve the situation amicably for the good of everyone," the judge's decision read. "Unfortunately, such a resolution has not yet been reached."

The area in question was leased to Park City Mountain Resort by Talisker, which owns the neighboring Canyons Ski Resort and last year awarded a long-term lease on Canyons to Vail Resorts. The agreement included the possibility of extending to the contested Park City Mountain Resort land.

In August, Vail Resorts obtained an eviction notice over the disputed terrain.

Talisker has filed a counterclaim alleging unlawful detainer by Park City Mountain Resort, which will be heard in 3rd District Court on June 19. Company officials issued a statement Wednesday announcing they look forward to making Vail Resorts the new tenant and operator of the terrain, and saying that Park City Mountain Resort's appeal is without merit.

Powdr Corp., which owns Park City Mountain Resort, responded with an emotional statement after the decision was handed down Wednesday, vowing it "will not walk away and allow a Vail takeover."

Powdr CEO John D. Cumming said in the statement the company has "made repeated offers to buy or lease the disputed property for an amount far in excess of market value."

Regardless of the ruling, Park City Mountain Resort and Vail still face a host of questions when it comes to day-to-day operations, Cumming said.

"Even if Vail ultimately prevails in this litigation, it cannot possibly operate a resort on the leased property," he said. "They do not own the adjacent lands and facilities that are essential for ski operations to take place. And they are not for sale."

Attorneys for Park City Mountain Resort expressed disappointment in the ruling and affirmed they intend to appeal the decision. In the meantime, Park City Mountain Resort expects to operate as usual, they said.

Vail Resorts issued a brief statement Wednesday saying the company is pleased with the ruling.

Email: mromero@deseretnews.com, Twitter: McKenzieRomero

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