A merger of Squaw and Alpine?
Investigating rumors that Squaw's owners are buying neighboring Alpine Meadows
Recently, there has been chatter that Squaw Valley's new owner, KSL Capital Partners, is attempting to purchase neighboring Alpine Meadows from its owner, JMA Ventures.
The rumors have been circulating mostly on websites like Unofficialsquaw.com and Epicski.com. UnofficialSquaw.com contributor Miles Clark recently posted that a "letter of intent" had even been signed by both parties, signaling the first stages of a transaction that could eventually lead to the creation of a Tahoe mega-resort.
But rumors of a possible Alpine/Squaw merger have been around since Alpine Meadows opened in 1961 and never have the two resorts been able to strike a deal. As a 10-year resident of North Lake Tahoe and a passholder at both resorts, my interest was certainly piqued -- Could it really be happening this time or is UnofficialSquaw.com just blowing smoke? -- so I decided to investigate.
I started by calling Troy Caldwell, the man in the middle, who owns White Wolf, a 460-acre privately-owned property located between the two resorts (which includes the top of Squaw's KT-22 chair). His land is the link in an eventual connection of the two resorts. Caldwell has entertained combining the two resorts through his property for decades, saying, "We've always kept that door open." When asked last week what he thought about the rumored ski resort merger Caldwell said, "I've heard those rumors a lot this year, and I don't believe them to be true ... If there is something going on, they haven't involved me."
Amelia Richmond, Squaw Valley's PR representative, also denied that a sale was in the works. "The rumors circulating regarding a letter of intent between KSL and JMA regarding the purchase of Alpine Meadows are simply incorrect," she said. Regarding Squaw's relationship with Caldwell, Richmond said, "Squaw Valley leases land from Troy Caldwell and we have committed to working together with him as neighbors. Troy is a great guy and good friend of ours."
Alpine Meadows spokesperson Rachael Woods also confirmed that they are "just rumors."
I also reached out to both KSL and JMA, the companies that own Squaw and Alpine, respectively. "We're aware that there are rumors afoot regarding some sort of co-venture between Alpine and Squaw; however, any such talk is purely speculative at this time," said JMA's representative Casey Shaughnessy.
KSL's media contact Stacey Copeland told me, "Unfortunately we have no information to share on that subject." An ambiguous answer, for sure, but perhaps they're just too busy dealing with actual business to entertain questions about internet rumors.
So far, I wasn't turning up anyone willing to admit that Squaw and Alpine would soon be owned by the same company. So where did UnofficialSquaw.com get their so-called insider information? When asked by ESPN Freeskiing to reveal his source Clark replied, "Unfortunately I cannot give away my source. That person is in a vulnerable position."
After investigating these rumors thoroughly, it's hard to say in complete confidence what, if anything, is actually going on. Based on my research, it would seem that there aren't any negotiations taking place between JMA and KSL and consequently no letter of intent to start any deal -- or at least not one that anyone wants to talk publicly about. Regardless of what may or may not be going on behind closed doors, only time will tell if Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley will be under the same ownership.
Who knows what it would be like if Squaw and Alpine were owned by the same company and ultimately interconnected. Perhaps the decades-long debate over which of the two resorts trumps the other can finally come to an end. UnofficialSquaw.com suggested that "fights will inevitably break out between Squaw and Alpine skiers." I don't see such a bleak future. I imagine a community stoked and united by one of the best ski resorts in the world. Because there's one thing I think most people would agree upon: It would make one hell of a ski area.