PCMR Sues Talisker

| March 11, 2012 | 11 Comments

Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) has filed a lawsuit against Talisker, who happens to be their neighbor, competitor and landlord. The crux of the lawsuit is that Talisker recently bought up all the land underneath the Park City ski resort and while PCMR thought their lease was good until 2051, Talisker says that it expired in April 2011. This lawsuit came as a surprise and PCMR has put together a website explaining their side of it here.


PCMR owns all the base facilities, parking areas, ski lifts and water rights, but not the actual ski runs.


Talisker has figured out a way to make money by running empty lifts.

I’m not sure why PCMR didn’t buy the land they are on in the first place.  The town of Park City originally boomed with mining and much of the land was owned by United Park City Mines (UPCM). Perhaps when the mining started to die off and skiing was just getting going, neither industry really knew if they were going to thrive or fade, so UPCM held onto the land, which PCMR then leased and built their lifts, lodges and parking lots on. This seems like an unusual situation as most of the resorts I know of either lease from the Forest Service, or own their land.

Evicting PCMR from their land would create a strange stalemate as PCMR owns the water rights, lodges, parking lots, base facilities and lifts. So, what good would all this land be without lifts, or, what good would all these lifts be without land?

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About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (11)

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  1. Vinnie says:

    Gee, what a surprise. The same Talisker that owns Canyons and is pushing SkiLink. I guess the saying that Canadians are the nicest people in the world doesn’t apply to them!

  2. Craig says:

    Yet Talisker doesn’t own the land at the Canyons. PCMR’s rent appears to only be about $150K per year, which is probably less than rent on one of the fat mansions in the Colony. My guess is that PCMR doesn’t want a rent increase and they are playing on Taliskers lack of good PR skills.

  3. Mike w says:

    Good summary. Read the website the other day and hadn’t figured out why PCMR didn’t own their land. Thanks!

  4. Andrew says:

    Craig – that sounds like a credible scenario to me as well. PCMR said they had made generous offers which were refused, but $150k a year is nothing in the grand scheme of things. For that, Talisker could hold out for a few years, drive PCMR into bankruptcy and then buy up their holdings at a bargain price. “Hi, we are your new neighbors – now give us your house.” ;)

  5. Chris Larson says:

    The background between PCMR and UPCM, as I understand it, was that back in (I believe) ’64, mining was pretty much dead and Park City was pretty much a ghost town. So UPCM, the town and some folks got together and started the ski resort, called Treasure Mountain as I recall.

    So it was really a joint venture where the resort leased the property and UPCM made some money. I doubt they could have bought the property. So things muddled along for UPCM until Deer Valley got going (whose land they also owned), at which point they started making some ching.

    So if I was PCMR, and I thought I had a lease until 2051, I’d probably roll with it as well. I agree with the comments above — this is just Talisker trying to soak PCMR for a bunch of cash. And if they go out of biz as a result, c’est la vie.

    Just thought y’all might like some history.

  6. Robert says:

    Chris was on the right track with his history. UPCM started the resort with a grant from the Feds in the early 60s. They ran the resort for a few years before leasing the operation of the resort to Edgar Stern. Mr Stern, founder of Deer Valley, later sold Treasure Mountain to the Badami Family. The Badami’s were the ones who really developed and expanded PCMR.

    Nick Badami ran the resort for his family and was the one responsible for bringing World Cup Skiing to Park City was killed in a helicopter accident at the resort. After the tragic accident the family eventually decided to sell the resort. Ian Cummings purchased Park City Mountain Resort and founded Powdr Corp. in 1994. Powdr has continued to expand its ownership of resorts to eight with Copper Mountain being its last purchase, 107 million dollars.

    In reading all the articles online and in print I find it very interesting PCMR is portrayed as this “Mom and Pop” locally owned operation. Yes Powdr is headquartered in Park City with Ian Cummings son, John, CEO and a local resident.

    Mr Cummings currently lives in Jackson Hole Wyoming, no state income tax, since leaving Utah in 1998. You will find that Mr Cummings is one of the founders and CEO of Leucadia National Corp., market cap June 2011 eight BILLION dollars, Forbes. He is also listed in the top 400 richest Americans, 377 Forbes 2008.

    In reading other news accounts and the legal complaint of what happened it appears that PCMR did not properly notify in writing their plans to renew their lease in a timely manner. As a result Talisker, parent company to UPCM, demanded new lease terms for the lease of property to PCMR. Any business would have done the same including Powdr who with the purchase of Killington ski resort a couple of years ago voided the lifetime passes of founding investors of Killington. American Ski Corp had honored them.

    I think PCMR is doing the community of Park City a great disservice in bringing this so public. I hear people saying “I’m cancelling my dinner reservation at the Farm” a Canyons restaurant.

    This fight is between Powdr, Cummings Family, and Talisker over a written lease. If Powdr missed the lease date notifacation then anti up for the new lease and be done with it. Yes it might cost you another zero added to the current lease amount but from a comment Powdr’s CEO John Cummings made last year at an employee meeting, “PCMR is our most profitable resort”….they can afford it. It wasn’t Taliskers mistake it was Powdr’s…..business is business.

  7. Andrew says:

    Wow! Thank very much Robert for the excellent insights! All of that sounded vaguely familiar, but seeing it all laid out made a lot more sense.

    Aside from disliking Talisker for their SkiLink antics, I don’t really have an option on Taliser vs. PCMR and think they get what they deserve. A friend once described Park City to me as “A bunch of millionaires fighting the billionaires, who are fighting the incoming faceless corporations.” I think the skiing will continue on one way or the other, but my real issue is when the fight to expand spills over into public lands.

  8. Henry says:

    This should be a simple matter of a landloard tenant agreement, but the stakes are higher because two large and powerful corporation are involved. Both are large employers in the area. Both hired high-priced attorneys.

    PCMR will never close. Threatening to do so is just “spin.” Powdr is getting away with paying next to nothing ($155,000 represents less than 1,600 tourists buying a lift ticket for one day) for the lease, and now they are upset because of what appears to be their own mistake (not sending a letter to nenew the lease per the lease agreement).

  9. Andrew says:

    Henry – I don’t think PCMR will close either. But, it would be an interesting story if it did. Considering Talisker would “only” lose $155k per year in foregone rent, they can easily wait out a PCMR protest closing, and if that leads to a PCMR bankruptcy, there is really only one buyer for the infrastructure – Talisker. The longer they wait, the cheaper it gets.

  10. Andrew says:

    I doubt PCMR forgot to send a letter to renew, but more that Talisker was putting the screws to them by substantially raising the lease, which in turn led to extended negotiations. When this was still unresolved, I’d imagine Talisker said something along the lines of “Okay, you may not agree to the price increase, but by the way, your lease has expired.”

  11. Robert,you are on tract,UPCM started uo treaure Mt.with a grant from the Feds.The leaders of UPCM went to Washington DC and asked President Kennedy for about 3 million.They put in the gondola,payday lift,Thaynes lift,and had an underground mine train that would bring skiers to the Hoist
    in Thaynes canyon.Skiers then used Thaynes lift to the top.
    Mr.Stern sold Park City ski area to Nick Badami.His son Craig was killed in the helicopter accident after the “America’s Opening”FIS world cup race.The Badami’s also ran Alpine Meadows in California.Park City season pass holder were allowed access at Aline Meadows after the lifts closed at Park City.Leucadia corp and Ian Cummings bought the place from the Badami family after Craig’s death.Then Mr.Cummings let his son John run the place.
    Of course by then Mr.Stern and Stein Ericksen had some excellent ski area desginers come in and build Deer Valley.Long sight lines,
    straight fall line ski runs,and ski lifts that follow those same lines and excellent grooing.PCMR has and always had weird lift sight lines,lots of cat tracks and long flat run outs that could be re-designed.I hope Talisker gets PCMR and all it’s employees.Except for the gromming crew.They should be re trained by a network of supervisors from Sun Valley,Vail and of course Deer Valley.

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