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Park City dilemma: Vail Resorts gets its mountain

The great Park City ski dilemma is over.


After months of litigation and a feared possible shutdown this season of the Utah town's most popular ski resort, Vail Resorts on Thursday agreed to buy out Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) for $182.5 million in cash, "subject to certain post-closing adjustments."

The deal ends litigation and disputes that threatened the local economy.

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"We are very pleased to bring a permanent end to this dispute and provide assurance to the guests and employees of PCMR, and to everyone in the Park City community, that they no longer have to worry about any disruption to the operation of the resort," said Vail Resorts Chairman and CEO Rob Katz in a statement. "This has been a difficult period for everyone involved and I commend John Cumming and Powdr Corp. for helping to find a solution to this situation."

Flags fly on condos at the Park City Mountain Resort on Sept. 2, 2014, in Park City, Utah.
Getty Images
Flags fly on condos at the Park City Mountain Resort on Sept. 2, 2014, in Park City, Utah.

John Cumming said part of the agreement guarantees that PCMR employees keep their current jobs. "Selling was the last thing we wanted to do," he said, "and while we believe the law around this issue should be changed, a protracted legal battle is not in line with our core value to be good stewards of the resort communities in which we operate."

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As recently as Monday, it wasn't clear if there would be any resolution. PCMR, owned by Cumming's Powdr, controlled the bottom of the mountain at the popular Park City Mountain Resort. For years it leased the top for the low rent of $155,000 a year from Canada-based Talisker. In 2011, the lease lapsed, and Talisker found a new tenant for the top—Vail Resorts, which agreed to pay $25 million a year to lease not only the top of Park City Mountain Resort, but all of the Canyons resort next door.

PCMR went to court to maintain access to the top of the mountain, but lost and faced eviction. At one point, Cumming vowed to rip out ski lifts and put in a winter ski park at the bottom of the hill. The town's mayor said the closure of the resort could have an $180 million impact on the local economy.

Thursday's sale agreement came one day ahead of a deadline for PCMR to post a $17.5 million bond to avoid eviction for at least one more year. It now appears no bond is necessary. Not only will this year's ski season continue as planned, but Vail Resorts plans to connect PCMR and Canyons by the 2015-16 ski season "to create the largest single ski resort in the United States with 7,000 skiable acres, subject to regulatory approvals."

—By CNBC's Jane Wells