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DENVER-The Denver City Council has unanimously approved a pact with Canadian-based Intrawest Corp. to operate and develop the city’s Winter Park ski resort in Grand County. Intrawest could end up operating Winter Park until 2078 under the agreement. It must also invest up to $9 million at the park during the next 10 years.

Intrawest is guaranteeing the City $3 million up front and $2 million each year for the next 10 years. Subsequent payments will be based on the resort’s revenues.

The City was not deterred by last week’s lawsuit against Intrawest from rival Vail Resorts Inc., which was filed in Delaware. Vail and Intrawest are partners at the development of Keystone, which Vail owns. Eight years ago the two companies signed a non-compete contract for four counties in Colorado. The agreement requires either company to have a controlling interest before it can develop land in any of those counties, which includes Grand County.

Vail contends controlling interest typically means at least 51% ownership, but in this case, the City of Denver remains the owner. Intrawest says the lawsuit is without merit, while Denver City Council members say the issue is not their concern.

Intrawest, based in Vancouver, B.C., and owns about a dozen ski areas. Its flagship resort is the 7,000-acre Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, which attracts more skiers than any other resort in North America, about two million a year.

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