Wolf Mountain claims Canyons owes $4 million in rent
A legal fight for the right to operate Utah’s largest ski resort is pitting Park City-based American Skiing Co. against its landlord, Wolf Mountain Resorts, in a bitter, high-stakes dispute over a rent check.
As owner of The Canyons, American Skiing Co. leases thousands of acres of terrain at the resort from Wolf Mountain managing partner Kenny Griswold.
Griswold will receive a rent payment for more than $1.6 million from American Skiing this month, said Tim Vetter, a spokesman for The Canyons, who added that American Skiing Co. would pay Griswold royalties this month from sales of food at the resort.
Wolf Mountain officials claim The Canyons owes them around $4 million for last season. Along with rent, they’re entitled to receive $1.7 million because skier and snowboarder visits at the resort exceeded 400,000, Griswold said. American Skiing Co. disputes those figures.
"Wolf Mountain is hanging out there hoping to get paid by [The Canyons] and its financially insolvent parent," said Paul Peters, an attorney for Wolf Mountain who testified recently against American Skiing Company in Third District Court at Silver Summit.
However, the dispute about rent is not connected to American Skiing’s strength as a publicly traded company, Vetter countered.
"I saw the (rent) check yesterday," he said in an interview Thursday. "They’ve gone out and said we’re not going to pay, it’s ridiculous, we’ve paid them every penny that we’ve owed them."
Vetter rejects Peters’ claims that American Skiing Company is "in the throes of a financial hardship."
"We’ve put a huge investment, hundreds of millions of dollars into this place, and have almost tripled the size of the resort," Vetter said. "What we will pay [Wolf] is exactly what we owe them."
Under the terms of the lease, Wolf Mountain receives extra compensation when "paid skier days" — not including those who redeem complimentary passes and others who ski at the resort without purchasing day passes exceed certain milestones, he said.
But "total skier days" at The Canyons are reported by American Skiing Company, Vetter said, adding, "There is a difference there."
"The lease says this is exactly how we have to pay Wolf," he said. "When we hit specific milestones, at increments of 100,000 skier days, Wolf Mountain gets paid an additional rent payment."
Meanwhile, Third District Court Judge Bruce Lubeck Wednesday postponed a hearing for American Skiing Company to request a temporary restraining order to prevent Wolf Mountain from terminating the lease at The Canyons, Vetter said.
"American Skiing Company has restated and amended our lease without authority," Griswold recently told The Park Record.
American Skiing violated its lease with Wolf Mountain when a $110 million leasehold mortgage was placed on the property, Griswold said.
But American Skiing has complied with the lease, according to Vetter.
"We’re not in default and we’re going to ask the court to rule on that," he said.
Both sides could argue their cases in the Snyderville courtroom Oct. 12 at 9 a.m.
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