Vail Daily editorial: When buffalo rumble |

Vail Daily editorial: When buffalo rumble

the Vail Daily Editorial Board

We’ve been watching with somewhat detached interest the legal wrangling between Vail Resorts and Powdr Corp. over the fate of the ski area in Park City, Utah. But if your interests lie in that part of the Beehive State, then your interest, and concern, is very real.

The Associated Press reports that a Utah judge last week ruled that Powdr, which operates Park City Mountain Resort, must pay Vail Resorts a $17.5 million bond to continue to operate this winter. Vail Resorts holds a lease on virtually all of Park City’s skiable terrain.

The court case is fairly involved, but too briefly, here’s what happened:

Vail Resorts in 2013 signed a deal with Talisker, the owner of the skiable terrain at Canyons Resort and Park City. That deal gave Vail Resorts the responsibility to operate Canyons and to take over a legal dispute over Park City’s land lease at that resort. Powdr had been paying below-market rates for years on the property, and Talisker wanted to end that arrangement in favor of a deal that more accurately reflects the value of the land.

Vail Resorts would obviously like to run Park City, but the story is further complicated by the fact that Powdr owns the base area there. Powdr also owns the ski lifts and other physical improvements on the leased land at the resort.

Our interest in the case is natural because of the Vail Resorts connection, but the outcome ultimately won’t have a huge effect on the resorts in our fair valley. It’s sort of like watching two buffalo — one quite a bit larger than the other — wrestle in a small, empty swimming pool — as long as you aren’t in the pool, you can just watch the spectacle.

On the other hand, we have real sympathy for the people and businesses at Park City. Imagine, if you will, a similar buffalo-rumble over Vail Mountain or Beaver Creek. We’d all be pretty nervous about the prospect of a season without running ski lifts.

While Powdr on Tuesday agreed to pay the bond, ensuring that Park City will operate this season, the company took a few days to agree to the payment. That had to be nerve-racking. Company officials have also indicated in previous stories they would tear out lift towers and tear down buildings rather than allow Vail Resorts to move in. That, too, can’t sit well with the community.

All of this drama must have a lot of people in Park City feeling a bit like field mice, who can only hope they aren’t smashed by those wrestling buffalo.

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