The chairman and CEO of Vail Resorts on Wednesday spoke in vague terms about future possibilities for the firm on the land where Park City Mountain Resort operates, but he cautioned that the lawsuit between PCMR and a firm under the Talisker Corporation umbrella leaves uncertainty.
In a call with Wall Street analysts and reporters, Rob Katz at several points discussed the PCMR land and the legal case. Katz did not provide details about possibilities involving the acreage, saying in his prepared statement the PCMR land could "add significant value to our opportunity . . . " He said the lawsuit, though, leaves the timing unclear.
"The opportunity with the PCMR land is not completely clear, but may offer a path that creates a very unique experience for skiers and riders in Park City," Katz said in his prepared remarks.
PCMR and the Talisker Corporation firm are locked in a lawsuit that centers on the resort's lease of land for the ski terrain. The Talisker Corporation side contends that PCMR did not properly renew the lease. PCMR sees the lawsuit as critical to the survival of the resort. The lawsuit claims Talisker Corporation wants to eliminate PCMR as a competitor to Canyons Resort.
As part of the agreement with Talisker Corporation, Vail Resorts "has assumed responsibility for the litigation," Katz said in the prepared remarks.
During the call with analysts and reporters, meanwhile, Katz fielded a question from an analyst about the cost of the Vail Resorts lease of the land at Canyons Resort, which was announced on Wednesday.
"But I would say there's no question that the land that is part of this opportunity underneath Park City, we feel has real value. Obviously, there's no certainty to that. So there is a bit of additional risk there," Katz said.
He added the PCMR land is nearby Canyons Resort and "could be connected from a ski experience perspective." He called PCMR "one of the great ski resorts, obviously in terms of brand names that's out there . . ."
Katz did not provide details about the prospects of a connection. Some sort of link between PCMR and Canyons Resort has been a point of speculation for years, but little apparent progress has been made. The PCMR lawsuit claims that the resort and Talisker Corporation in 2009, 2010 and 2011 held talks about business ideas and capital upgrades that included a possible connection between PCMR and Canyons Resort.
In response to another question from an analyst, Katz spoke about Vail Resorts previously being interested in Canyons Resort. He said Talisker Corporation has invested heavily at Canyons Resort in the intervening years and that there is potential at PCMR as part of the agreement announced on Wednesday.
" . . . I think the resort is in a far, far better position than it was when we last looked at it six years ago or so," he said about Canyons Resort. "And yes, certainly when we were looking at it, way back when there was no opportunity on the land at PCMR."
Jenni Smith, the president and general manager of PCMR, issued a statement about the lease between Vail Resorts and Talisker Corporation.
"We welcome Vail Resorts to the Utah ski community and look forward to working with them to continue to grow Utah's ski industry. As we have for the last 50 years, we remain committed to owning and operating Park City Mountain Resort and will continue to work towards a fair resolution of the lease dispute," Smith said in the statement.