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Intrawest finalizes Winter Park deal with Denver


Company will begin planning multi-million re-development of Colorado ski area in 2003

The deal has been sealed with Denver.

After 18 months of negotiations Intrawest has officially assumed control over operations and development at Winter Park, Colorado.

The deal means that over the next few years there will be multi-million dollar upgrades to the ski area, which is slightly more than 100 kilometres northwest of Denver and therefore the closest major ski area to the city.

"This is a winning arrangement for all involved," said Gary Raymond, chief executive officer, development and acquisitions for Intrawest.

"We are keen to pool our talents, resources and expertise with those of our colleagues at Winter Park to further enhance skiing, riding and summer recreation experiences for year-round visitors to the resort."

As part of the agreement Intrawest paid the City of Denver, owner of Winter Park, $3 million US and for the next 10 years it will pay the city $2-million US annually.

Intrawest will also sink $50 million US into mountain operations over the next decade, including $8 million US over the next two years on upgrades to ski lifts, on-mountain facilities and equipment and skier services.

Denver has been seeking a partner for Winter Park because a task force reported that changes had to be made at Winter Park, including an influx of cash, or the resort would not be able to complete in an increasingly competitive ski industry.

"This is a long-anticipated day for Winter Park Resort’s staff and customers and the beginning of a very new chapter for the resort," said Gary DeFrange, vice president and general manager of the resort.

The City and County of Denver initially considered submissions from six companies to help develop and run the ski operation. Intrawest was chosen by Denver last January, although negotiations didn’t conclude until late December.

At one point in the negotiations, Vail challenged Intrawest’s involvement at Winter Park, saying it violated a non-competition agreement.

Vail and Intrawest partnered in a real estate development at Vail-owned Keystone Resort, and Vail maintained the agreement prohibited Intrawest from doing further real estate development in Colorado at resorts Intrawest doesn’t own.

Intrawest maintained it will have controlling interest in Winter Park and so it is not violating the agreement.

Intrawest owns or controls 10 mountain resorts, including Copper Mountain in Colorado and Whistler-Blackcomb.

Planning for the short and long-term development of Winter Park will begin in 2003.

Winter Park, Mary Jane (including Parsenn Bowl), Vasquez Cirque and Vasquez Ridge make up Winter Park, which is one of the largest ski resorts in Colorado. It is set in the Vasquez Mountains of the Arapaho National Forest. The four adjacent mountains are inter-connected by ski trails and lifts. This year will be Winter Park’s 64 th year of operation.

Winter Park is also recognized as being the premiere ski area for disabled skiers.