Yellowstone Club to Open Despite Money Woes

By Beacon Staff

BILLINGS – The Yellowstone Club, an exclusive haven for the ultrarich, plans to open for the ski season Friday as wrangling continues over who will provide financing to keep the club going through the winter.

The club near Yellowstone National Park counts former Vice President Dan Quayle and Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt among its 345 members. But the credit crisis and a failed expansion plan have left it mired in debts of almost $400 million.

The club filed for federal bankruptcy protection last month, shielding it from its hundreds of creditors while it comes up with a new business plan.

A federal court hearing over short-term financing for the winter ski season recessed Thursday with no decision. Nevertheless, club spokesman Bill Keegan says enough cash is on hand to start operations while the larger money troubles are resolved.

“We have every intention of opening as planned (on Friday) and will look forward to welcoming our members for the winter season,” Keegan said.

Since filing for bankruptcy protection last month, the club has been at the center of competing loan offers from Credit Suisse and Boston-based CrossHarbor Capital.

Credit Suisse already was owed $307 million before the bankruptcy filing and loaned the club another $4.5 million in November.

It now wants to loan the club $23.2 million more — to get near the front of a long line of creditors, a space now occupied by CrossHarbor.

A $20 million loan to the club from CrossHarbor was approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Ralph Kirscher in late November. That bumped Credit Suisse from its position as the club’s prime lender and means CrossHarbor will be paid first if the club’s assets are sold.

Club members pay substantial sums for the privilege of building expensive homes in the gated resort but they do not own the club itself. Experts have said the lots owned by members could plummet in value if the club operations and ski hill are shuttered during the bankruptcy.