Is it vilified; or Vailified?
So, OK, I figured it out. I know what’s happening.Now, pay attention: You won’t hear this anywhere else until it’s maybe too late. And it may be too late already.Vail is going to buy Aspen.Yeah. That’s what I said. Vail is going to buy Aspen.The handwriting is on the wall. Mene mene tekel whatchamacallit. Check it out. It’s in the Old Testament. Book of Whatshisface. The mysterious words appear on the wall, and they are interpreted to mean, “Your sins have been counted and weighed. Your kingdom shall be divided.”Now, I don’t know which of Aspen’s sins have been counted. (Who could count that high?) Or what they might weigh. But “Kingdom divided”? Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.Look, first it was the Jerome.Savaged by the Oklahoma barbarians and then turned over to … Vail. And, boy oh boy, didn’t Vail just march right in and show a whole bucketload of sensitivity and sincerity by firing the longtime manager of the Jerome, a man who had performed brilliantly and won the support of the entire community.We’re talking scorched earth. Swaggering barbarians at the gates.Slow down, you say? The Jerome. One hotel. Big deal. Well, actually, it is a big deal. It’s one of Aspen’s real icons, one of the genuine pieces of the past, a slice of the kind of history that Vail could only dream of. Well now they’ve got it, their dream come true – like a rapist who kidnapped the prom queen.Next up, Breeze Ski Rentals, which Vail bought just last week.Now, I admit that one really is no big deal. Just a nondescript ski rental shop … at the base of Little Nell. Uh-oh. They’ve got a toehold right there on the Gondola Plaza. Like a toad under a bridge – or whatever vile thing it is that lurks under a bridge, waiting to do whatever it is that vile bridge lurkers do.Never mind the details. The trend is clear. The kingdom is being divided. Mene mene tekel and all that.Next step? That’s easy: Base Village in Snowmass. Once Intrawest sandbagged the Skico and sold out, that huge chunk of prime local territory was in play. How long before the small-potatoes investors who gobbled it up start to choke? And when they choke … wham! Vail will be right there with a corporate Heimlich maneuver.The only real question now is whether Aspen will fight back.And by “Aspen,” of course, I mean the Crown family, the power behind the Skico. (And by “power,” of course, I mean money.)After all, it’s Vail Resorts that is wrapping up bits and pieces of Aspen its slimy tentacles. (Gotta be careful. From “tentacles” to “testicles” is but a mere slip of the finger.)So it’s corporate warfare.Let’s see how the gladiators measure up.Vail Resorts’ total stock market value is $2.31 billion. Not bad, actually. If I had that in my checking account, I’d feel pretty good. Maybe even go out and buy that new pair of shoelaces I’ve been saving up for.Yeah, but … the Crown family’s major corporate holding is a little gem called General Dynamics. The Crowns own something like a million shares of that baby.And General Dynamics’ total stock market value clocks in at, oh, just about $32 billion. So if we’re going to slug it out dollar-for-dollar, Vail suddenly looks like a bit of a pipsqueak.And if it’s real warfare we’re talking about, well, Vail Resorts (headquartered in Broomfield, you know) owns ski resorts and hotels. And General Dynamics manufactures “armored combat vehicles, main battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, Virginia-class attack submarines, and Trident ballistic-missile submarine conversions.”So it should be no contest. Big bully Vail thought it was snatching candy from little baby Aspen Skiing Co. – and it should find out that the baby has one mean old big brother who will pound the snot out of the bully.If the Crowns want to fight.Do they? I sure as heck don’t know.But … wait! I just realized, there’s another piece of Aspen that Vail kind of owns.Maybe it all began back in 2000, when the company that owned the Vail Daily bought The Aspen Times!That’s right. This very newspaper kind of, sort of, oh my God, belongs to …[We interrupt this column to bring you a word from our sponsors: Vail is great. Vail is grand. Ski Vail. Resistance is futile.]Andy Stone is former editor of The Aspen Times. His e-mail address is email@example.com
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