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Park City Mountain Resort is now Epic?!

What a week for Park City! On September 9th, we got word that Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) would still be open for the 2014-2015 season because they had agreed to pay the $17.5M bond. If you aren't aware of the three year litigation battle that has been taking place, here's some history. Skiers, employees, and the community were happy with the news but still cautious about continuing lawsuits and the uncertainty of the 2015-2016 season and beyond. Little did we know, that two days later there would be more news.

We lived in Park City for 10 years before becoming season pass holders at PCMR. Although the terrain and snow might not be at the levels of Little Cottonwood, we really enjoy the convenience and community feel and are going into our 3rd season as pass holders. We are also huge fans of the trail system that PCMR supports along with Mountain Trails. There are miles and miles of single track that aren't there just to appease the lift-riding downhillers. As PCMR pass holders, we are showing our appreciation for year-round recreation.

The history of PCMR is shown on their website as part of their 50th Anniversary celebration. In 1963, Treasure Mountains Resort opened with help from a $1.2M loan from the Kennedy Administration. The name change came in 1971 and through the years, the resort has brought jobs, athletes, tourists, the Olympics, and so much more to our community.

So on September 9th, all was back in order. PCMR employees were safe for another year and we weren't concerned with losing money on not just season passes but tickets or passes at another resort. Then, on September 11th, we got news that Vail Resorts had purchased PCMR for $182.5M cash. Sure, that was always on the table and in the rumor mill but after the news of the bond, the timing seemed a little odd. Was this the plan all along? I imagine someday there will be a Sundance movie that will uncover all the drama that we haven't been privy to.

Word spread quickly! Work projects were put on hold to check media reports, send texts to those in the know, and check on season pass status. Immediately, we heard that PCMR was now Epic. Wait, we already knew that - ah, you mean part of the Vail Resorts Epic Pass. Great news for some of the locals that ski The Canyons (taken over by Vail Resorts last year) and had purchased Epic Passes. Amazing news for all those that buy the Epic Pass and travel to all the resorts. They can now come to Park City and get a 2-for-1.

But what about the Park City locals that believed in PCMR so much that we bought our 2014-2015 passes early on? We stood by our community, our slopes, our trails. Word is still out. Reports say that we will have the opportunity to upgrade to an Epic Pass, but no confirmation yet on the cost or on honoring pass upgrades at PCMR like parking, night skiing, and fast tracks.  Within an hour of hearing the news, we did receive a letter from PCMR that stated they would provide refunds. Update: PCMR pass holders have several options and can keep their upgrades! We chose to upgrade (additional $25 per pass) to an Epic plus Fast Tracks. We now get all the Epic Pass benefits plus we don't lose our PCMR Fast Tracks.

The good news is that as part of the purchase, Vail Resorts must keep PCMR employees for the 2014-2015 season. This has to be of some relief to our neighbors and friends. I would hope that the benefits are equivalent or better making the transition less stressful. When Vail Resorts took over the Canyons, 42 employees were let go in the first couple months which was a small % but still made an impact on the community.

In the last few days, whether at work, a restaurant, or on the trails; all the discussion is about Vail Resorts and what it means for Park City. Unless it is a realtor, the talk is negative which is normal for any kind of change.  I wish Vail Resorts, like any corporation in this position, would have had a list of FAQs ready and posted on their website. Obviously they are either still figuring things out or waiting until lift ticket prices for the season are announced and will let us all in on how and if things will change at PCMR. Update: There is now a comprehensive list of FAQs on the website!

According to Vail Resorts CEO, Rob Katz, it sounds like most things will stay the same. Also looks like next year there will be a lift between PCMR and The Canyons and the entire 7000 skiable acres will be called PCMR. I imagine this is an easy excuse to jack the ticket prices for both resorts this year, but we'll see. Let's get back to why realtors are happy.

Vail Resorts inherited 600,000 square feet of development approvals. This is one of the biggest concerns for Parkites, including us. We will likely hear construction equipment and have trail detours for the next 10 years. There are plenty of rumors about how Vail Resorts has operated in the past and many have seen it occurring the last year at The Canyons. Granted, a corporation with money can also bring many good things to the community, which we've also seen.

The only thing certain is that over the next year, we will see change. Some will be good, some bad. I am going to stay positive and trust that Vail Resorts will keep the employees and vibe that make PCMR feel like an extension of our community and not a corporation. I also hope they listen to (and become) locals who know that keeping the single track world-class and the development to a minimum is the right thing to do.

Everyone now also knows what we've known for years, which is PCMR is Epic no matter the season!


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