Real Estate Development Fears Raised at Sunapee Hearing
Vail Resorts is seeking state approval to acquire the ski area lease.
Thursday, July 26, 2018, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com
As has been the case for decades, fears of real estate development in the Mount Sunapee State Park were raised at the Wednesday's hearing for the proposed transfer of the ski area lease to Vail Resorts.
Vail's acquisition of Triple Peaks for $82 million was announced on June 4, 2018. Owned by the Mueller family, Triple Peaks' portfolio of ski areas is Crested Butte, Okemo, and Mount Sunapee, the latter of which has been leased from the State of New Hampshire since 1998. According to the lease transfer provision in the agreement, "such approval shall not be unreasonably withheld by the state."
At the hearing, Patricia Campbell, Vail's President of Mountain Operations, stated "We made the strategic decision several years ago that real estate was not part of core business for us."
Some parties objected to the statement, claiming Vail's web site stated otherwise. However, according to Vail's 2017 Annual Report filed with the SEC, real estate represented 1% of Vail's net revenue.
No real estate has been developed in Mount Sunapee State Park since the ski area lease was commenced on July 1, 1998, following decades of financial and legal struggles under state management.
Including option years, the current lease runs through 2048. Under the terms of the lease, the operator must pay the state $150,000 per year, plus 3% of gross revenue. Since the start of the lease, all Sunapee lease payments have been used to finance debt accumulated at Cannon Mountain.
Public comments regarding the proposed lease transfer can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org through August 8. According to Attorney General Gordon MacDonald, the state hopes to announce a decision by Labor Day.