One of the best ways to market Park City as a skiing destination has long been to prominently mention that it is a place with three major mountain resorts within a few miles of each other, something that is unique in North America.
Tourism officials, though, have started crafting plans for the upcoming winter should one of the three not open. As the lawsuit between Park City Mountain Resort and Talisker Land Holdings, LLC continues, the Park City Chamber/Bureau is preparing for the possibility that PCMR may not open for the ski season as a result of the case.
The lawsuit centers on PCMR's lease of Talisker Land Holdings, LLC acreage underlying most of the resort's terrain. The judge has ruled the lease was not renewed and has signed a de facto eviction order against PCMR. A critical hearing is scheduled Wednesday. The judge could allow the landowner to proceed with the eviction after the hearing, jeopardizing the PCMR ski season.
Bill Malone, the president and CEO of the Chamber/Bureau, said in an interview the organization is preparing a contingency plan that would be put into effect if PCMR does not open for the 2014-2015 ski season as a result of the lawsuit. The Chamber/Bureau hired a Florida public-relations firm prior to the contingency planning and has used the firm in those efforts as well, he said.
According to Malone, a four-point approach will be ready should PCMR not open during the upcoming ski season.
"We're not going to pull the trigger on these items unless we know we're going to be dark," Malone said, calling the work thus far in preparation for a "hypothetical situation."
The Chamber/Bureau started addressing the four points in early August, he said.
Malone said the Chamber/Bureau has purchased advertisements in September issues of print publications that will tout Park City as a place with "world-class resorts" rather than as a three-resort town. Promoting Park City as a place with three resorts has been a mainstay in marketing for decades. Television and online marketing campaigns have not been finalized, he said.
"If we were dark at Park City Mountain Resort, we've got 6,000 acres of skiing" at Canyons Resort and Deer Valley Resort, Malone said.
There have been increasing concerns in the business community and at City Hall in recent weeks about the prospects of PCMR not opening for the upcoming ski season. There are worries that the collateral damage could be widespread if skiers decide against a trip to Park City in favor of another mountain resort. An economic expert hired by PCMR earlier in the summer said in a court filing a shutdown of the resort could result in an economic hit of tens of millions of dollars.
Malone said a Park City with Deer Valley Resort and Canyons Resort operating coupled with Main Street and the city's restaurant lineup will make for a nice ski trip, calling that scenario "a pretty good product still."
Skiers typically begin considering Christmas vacations in the summer, Malone has said. The week between Christmas and New Year's is an important period in the ski season. Malone said bookings for Christmas week are strong compared to the same time in 2013.
"There's still a lot of great reasons to still come here on a ski vacation," Malone also said.