ASC sells Haystack in Vermont

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American Skiing Co. intends to sell a small ski area in Vermont to a real estate development firm for $5 million.

The Haystack ski area is af--filiated with the larger Mount Snow ski area, about three miles away between Bennington and Brattleboro, Vt. ASC acquired Hay----stack and Mount Snow in its 1994 acquisition of Killington, Vt.

"We haven't operated it except for weekends and holidays," ASC spokesman David Hirasawa said.

Hirasawa said Mount Snow was sufficient to handle all the weekday skier and snowboarder traffic, and ASC could never justify keeping the four lifts and 42 trails at Haystack open during the week.

ASC has agreed to sell Haystack to Tyringham Ridge Inc., which has developed resort condominiums and owns a golf course in the Haystack area. ASC paid $4.35 million for Haystack a decade ago, according to a report in the Rutland Herald.

Hirasawa said ASC was not try--ing to sell Haystack but that Tyringham Ridge approached ASC.

ASC marketed Haystack as the alternative ski area where snow that fell during the week remained pristine until the weekend.

"It was a nice little niche to have, but the asset was underutilized," Hirasawa said. "This fits in with our debt-reduction needs."

Hirasawa said the proceeds of the Haystack sale would be used for capital improvement projects and debt reduction. ASC has more than $640 million in debt (a number that includes almost $290 million in preferred stock) against assets of about $458 million.

ASC announced last month that it would not make a deadline for payments on a construction loan, which helped build the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel. Because the resort and real estate sides of the company are legally separated, proceeds from Haystack could not be used to retire the debt, Hirasawa said.

ASC auctioned the remaining ownership intervals at the Canyons Grand Summit Hotel near Park City, Utah, in February 2004.

Skier and snowboarder visits at Mount Snow were on par early this season with last winter -- Mount Snow saw 217,514 skier visits as of Jan. 30. That number ranked it third among ASC's seven resorts, behind Killington and Steamboat. The company's reports did not break out how many skier visits Haystack had contributed to Mount Snow's total.

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