Updated March 1, 2007 at 3:33 p.m.
Steamboat Springs American Skiing Company's ownership of the Steamboat Ski Area came to an end today as Intrawest ULC finalized its purchase of the resort.
David Barry, Intrawest's chief operating officer for mountain resorts, announced the closing this afternoon. The two companies came to a contractual sale agreement on Dec. 19. The announced sales price was $265 million.
"Steamboat's success is a direct result of the combination of the experience and dedication of the management team led by Chris Diamond, a loyal employee base, a supportive community and access to some of North America's most legendary terrain," Barry said. "To ensure a successful integration, we will work closely with the entire Steamboat team to build strong ties with resort customers as well as the local community to support and protect the Yampa Valley's unique culture, traditions and the Steamboat brand."
The deal brings an end to ASC's 10-year run as the ski area's owner. Included in the sale are the resort and all resort-owned operations, all of Steamboat's resort-owned real estate assets, the commercial core of the Steamboat Grand Hotel and Condominiums and the company's interest in the Walton Pond Apartments complex.
Fortress Investments acquired Intrawest last year for $2.8 billion, giving Intrawest access to a new source of capital. Many look at what Intrawest has done at its other resorts and see it as a sign that Intrawest will invest significantly in both the ski area itself and the base area, something ASC was unable to do because of overwhelming debt.
With the Steamboat purchase, Intrawest now has interests in 11 North American ski resorts. It owns Copper Mountain and manages Winter Park, which is owned by the city and county of Denver.
"Steamboat's heritage and legendary terrain complement our existing portfolio of world-class mountain resorts," said Alex Wasilov, president and chief operating officer of Intrawest. "This acquisition increases our capacity to reach new customers and represents a significant step for Intrawest in our strategy to become the undisputed world leader in the development and management of experiential destination resorts."
The Steamboat deal is by far the biggest in an ongoing fire sale of ASC resorts. The company recently announced the sale of Vermont ski resorts Killington and Pico Mountain to SP Land Company for $83.5 million and Vermont's Mount Snow ski resort and New Hampshire's Attitash ski resort to Peak Resorts for $73.5 million. It also is rumored to be shopping SugarLoaf and Sunday River in Maine. ASC will use proceeds from the sales to address the $337 million in indebtedness it had as of Jan. 28.
Steamboat began operating in 1963, and has grown into one of North America's largest mountain resorts. Today Steamboat hosts more than one million visitors each winter with access to six peaks, 165 trails for all ability levels, 3,668 vertical feet serviced by 20 lifts and nearly 3,000 skiable acres of terrain. In 2006, the readers of SKI Magazine named Steamboat as the No. 1 Family Resort in the West for the fourth consecutive year.
"Steamboat is experiencing one of the best winter seasons in our 44-year history," said Diamond, Steamboat's president. "As the resort makes the transition to new ownership with Intrawest, the Steamboat team will remain focused on providing the high level of service that supports its position as the No. 1 family resort in the West."
Though the deal was announced months ago, Thursday's closing was an important moment because of what happened the last time ASC announced plans to sell the ski area.
In February 2002, ASC signed a contract to sell the ski area to Triple Peaks LLC led by Tim and Diane Mueller of Vermont for $91.4 million. But on closing day, ASC walked away from the deal, selling Heavenly Ski Resort in California to Vail Resorts instead.
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