As the deadline ticks closer for action that would allow the Park City Mountain Resort to open in time for the coming ski season, the list of those who stand to be harmed by a failure to open grows longer. It certainly includes area merchants, tourism businesses and the skiing public, but at the top of the list are the two parties responsible for the stalemate.
Talisker Holdings and PCMR stand to lose more than annual operating revenue if the resort shuts down. In the court of public opinion, both companies will be held accountable, and which party eventually prevails in a judicial court will find the victory hollow should their brand image be scorched by blame for the spectacle of idle chairlifts.
Both argue it’s the other side’s fault that a settlement has not been reached. To the skiing public, both local and out-of-state, the point is moot. People see it as a case of corporate testosterone trumping good citizenship. Should a shutdown happen, both parties would be viewed as villains, which raises the question of whether they are taking direction in this matter from the right quarters. It would be interesting to know what their respective marketing and public relations people are saying about the fallout from a failure to open.
Both companies have ownership ties to other resorts in Utah and elsewhere. Are they concerned that reputational damage from the way the Park City matter has been handled will affect patronage of their other properties? Do they recognize the impact a closure would have on the entire Utah ski industry for years to come? Ski resorts rely on access to public land and a host of other public amenities and services. Do they think playing “chicken” with the Park City economy is a way to build goodwill among public and private partners?
The way the case has stalled begs the question of just where on the list of corporate values the two companies place service to the customer and service to the community.
The best way to answer that question is a quick compromise that grooms the way for a smooth opening of Park City’s storied slopes. The failure to reach an agreement puts both sides at the top of another kind of slope — a slippery one toward hazards that are only partially measured by the loss of one season’s revenue.