Steamboat Springs Joseph Fogliano was shocked like the rest of the Yampa Valley when he found out a deal between American Skiing Co. and an investment group headed by a Vermont couple to buy the Steamboat Ski Area collapsed on Tuesday afternoon.
Fogliano had aligned himself with other Steamboat Springs investors and Tim and Diane Mueller to purchase the Steamboat Ski Area for $91.4 million.
Instead of selling the Steamboat Ski Area to Triple Peaks LLC, ASC sold its Heavenly Ski Resort in California to Vail Resorts Inc., a decision that was announced Tuesday.
"All of us are disappointed," said Fogliano, who learned of the events through an e-mail message Tuesday at about 3 p.m. "We felt like we had a good team. We were backing the Muellers."
The non-sale of the Steamboat Ski Area by ASC has spread some disappointment throughout the valley, but local officials are optimistic the company will work better on becoming a partner within the community.
Sandy Evans-Hall, executive director of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, and Kathy Connell, Steamboat Springs City Council president, are optimistic the sale will allow ASC to make improvements to the resort here.
"They have an opportunity to improve the ski area," Evans-Hall said. "I believe we will continue to be a first-class resort.
"I think it would have been a good thing to have new owners, but we have a good management team in place up there now."
Connell said the local representatives of the company have been supportive, but she is now hopeful the corporate brass will get more involved in Steamboat.
"The national corporation needs to become a community partner and work with us," Connell said. "Together, we need to develop Steamboat Springs where it needs to be. We have fallen behind.
"We have no other choice but to stay positive."
Connell admitted she looked forward to the resort being under new ownership.
"It's natural to be disappointed," she said.
"When you see things declining, you always look for new blood and new life. We were all looking forward to a new beginning and a new attitude."
Connell said the community needs to wait and see if ASC works with the community to keep Steamboat economically viable.
"Let's give them the opportunity to see what they can do."
Paul Clavadetscher, president of First National Bank, agrees.
"As a community, we need to go forward and continue to work with whoever the owner is for the good of the community," he said. "If ASC is the one, we need to continue to work with ASC to ensure we are providing a good product.
"The Muellers would have been great partners, but it is not going to happen."
Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan was also shocked.
"Wow!" Sullivan said when told of the development. "Progress was being made. It is disappointing. The community was excited about the new owners coming in. It is disappointing to say the least."
Josh Kaufman, owner of a local snowboard shop, The Click, was also surprised.
"It is a bummer," Kaufman said from his Park City, Utah, store. "I was ready for change.
"But ASC has done an OK job. I would like them to take a more positive and proactive attitude toward the snowboard industry. That is the future."
Chris Diamond, president of the Steamboat Ski Area, notified Steamboat Springs City Manager Paul Hughes of the deal late Tuesday afternoon.
"It is certainly a surprise," Hughes said. "My question is what does it mean for the city.
"Personally, I am disappointed. I have known the Muellers for the past five years. I was looking forward to the Muellers being here."
Pete Wither, a real estate broker for Colorado Group Realty, was also disappointed.
Wither worked for the Steamboat Ski Area for 30 years but had to find a new job when ASC cut his position.
"I really had high hopes for Triple Peaks," he said. "It is too bad."