Park City, Utah's most popular ski resort is a mountain divided. The top—where the ski runs are—is owned by one company. The bottom—where public parking and the lifts start—is owned by another.
Currently neither company is allowing the other access to its property.
Because of this legal spat over big bucks and white powder, it's possible there will be no ski season this year at Park City Mountain Resort, rated one of the most popular in the country. If that happens, the local economy could end up on a downhill run.
Source: Robert Simons
"It will have a direct impact on hundreds and hundreds of employees that don't have a job, " said Hans Fuegi, owner of the Grub Steak Restaurant in the middle of town.
"If the ski resort does not open up, there is going to be some real damage, " added gallery owner Thomas Anthony. "I don't know how there could not be." Even though two other resorts nearby will remain open, Canyons and Deer Valley, Anthony said, "There are people who think that if Park City Mountain Resort is closed for the winter season, then maybe the town of Park City will not be open for business."
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Here's how this all came to pass. For years, the resort has been run by PCMR, owned by the Cumming family, a local wealthy family. They paid rent to the owners of the top of the mountain, a Canadian company called Talisker. The rent was low, $155, 000 a year. In April 2011, the lease lapsed—PCMR didn't realize it—and Talisker went out and found a much higher paying tenant, Vail Resorts.
Instead of paying $155, 000 a year in rent, Vail signed a long-term contract to pay $25 million a year. As part of the deal, Vail also leased access to the entire Canyons resort next door.
Source: Jessica Golden
An aerial view of Utah
PCMR was then ordered evicted by a court, but CEO John Cumming hopes to appeal. On Wednesday, a judge heard arguments about what sort of bond PCMR should put up to delay eviction, and at least have the current ski season go forward while it appeals its loss in court.
How much that bond should be is widely disputed by both sides. PCMR thinks it should be anywhere from $1 million to $6 million. Talisker and Vail think it should be at least $14.7 million for this year.
Cumming released a statement to CNBC saying: "Our goal is, and always has been, to keep the resort open for the 2014/15 season and beyond, but unfortunately that might not happen if a reasonable agreement is not reached. This situation is not good for anyone. It's not good for this community, Vail's shareholders, or us."