Buyer backs out on California's Great America, Cedar Fair will keep the amusement park

Posted Tuesday, December 6, 2011 3:49 PM | Contributed by Jeff

[Ed. note: The following is an excerpt of a press release. -J]

Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN), a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and active entertainment announced today that JMA Ventures, LLC (“JMA”) has elected to not move forward with their purchase of California’s Great America amusement park in Santa Clara, California. As a result of JMA’s actions, the definitive purchase agreement governing this transaction, originally agreed on September 16, 2011, has been terminated.

“We respect JMA’s decision and are pleased to return to the long-term ownership of this exceptional property,” said Matt Ouimet, Cedar Fair’s president. “As we stated at the time the agreement was made, this is a quality park that has terrific employees and serves a strong market. We look forward to continuing to take advantage of the synergies which are uniquely available to us as a result of operating this park as part of our larger portfolio of properties.”

According to Ouimet, the termination of this sale does not alter the Company’s expectations of achieving record adjusted EBITDA between $365 million and $375 million in 2011. “In fact, we expect to be at the higher end of our original distribution guidance of $1.35 to $1.65 per limited partner unit in 2012,” he said. “With continued growth in our annual distribution rates and additional debt reduction through our improved operating performance, we believe Cedar Fair will maintain its position as one of the most attractive growth and yield stories in the leisure and hospitality industry.”

The Company also announced that it has reached a long-term agreement with the San Francisco 49ers related to the construction of the stadium and parking for NFL and other stadium-related events for the life of the new stadium. The agreement is still subject to the execution of a definitive agreement and the approval of the Stadium Authority and related approvals from the City of Santa Clara.

“The combination of an NFL stadium and a premier amusement park in one location offers tremendous and exciting opportunities for family entertainment. We are excited to reach an agreement on construction issues and parking that are important to the stadium project,” said Jed York, president and chief executive officer of the San Francisco 49ers. “This arrangement leads the way to a mutually beneficial relationship between Cedar Fair, the 49ers and the City of Santa Clara,” added Ouimet.

“California’s Great America was a strong performer in 2011 and we are confident this will continue into the future as we build the park’s customer base through new marketing initiatives and capital investments.”

Read the entire press release from Cedar Fair.

Thursday, December 8, 2011 11:41 PM
mlnem4s's avatar

Jeff you can believe what you chose to believe, but I want everyone who reads this site to know that there is not one ounce of truth to the things posted on this topic....not even remotely close. The employees of that park deserve better for all their hard work.

Friday, December 9, 2011 1:24 AM

^ I guess I kind of agree. The foundation of a good park still lies within Great America. What the park needs is the opportunity to add worthwhile attractions. It already has a strong local following, and if it has managed to maintain that despite little investment, imagine what would happen should CF actually invested in the park.

I think the misconception is that the park is a dump. It isn't. But it's a problem when you can't name one stand out coaster (other than Flight Deck) that hasn't been removed.

I suspect Ouimet might be the guy who finally "gets" it. This is a park that needs some TLC and something to market. And I think it will silence it's critics.

Friday, December 9, 2011 2:37 AM
CoasterDemon's avatar

^As far as 'stand out' coasters, I have heard (oddly, on more than one occasion) that the very low-rated Grizzly is actually very popular with the general public!? Mamoosh once told me it was boring, slow AND rough, but that people love it for some odd reason.

Friday, December 9, 2011 8:47 AM
Jeff's avatar

mlnem4s said:
Jeff you can believe what you chose to believe, but I want everyone who reads this site to know that there is not one ounce of truth to the things posted on this topic....not even remotely close. The employees of that park deserve better for all their hard work.

This is not an emotional issue. "Not even remotely close." I don't care how hard people work. It's irrelevant. The fact is that the park underperformed for years. That is the truth, and rainbows and hugs won't change it.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

Friday, December 9, 2011 3:56 PM

A couple of things...

I read an article today that answers my earlier question: apparently, this means that Cedar Fair will continue to manage Gilroy Gardens.

Second, when I visited Great America, I almost wished I hadn't. Well, that's not entirely true, but I did spend way too much time there waiting for broken rides to open when I really should have spent more time at Gilroy Gardens.

I suspect that a big problem with Great America has been the uncertainty surrounding the property, and it sounds like Cedar Fair finally has that problem solved. The park is kind of hemmed in on all sides by office and hotel buildings, which potentially presents its own unique hazard. But my observation was that while the park had been underperforming for years, a lot of that under-performance was probably self-inflicted.

How many major attractions have been removed from this park without replacement? And how many rides are so poorly operated that they might as well be ripped out? Their Bayern Kurve was one of the most disappointing rides I have ever ridden. They put a Break Dance in the kiddie ride section, then operate it so that it seems to belong there. Invertigo, Mad Mouse, and Firefall were all down on the day I visited. And then there is the Grizzly, for 14 years rated the World's Worst Wooden Roller Coaster.

My impression is that Charlotte has been crapping all over the park for years, and I wonder if it's just because it's "only" a management contract. It's the same kind of thing I saw for years at Wyandot Lake, where Premier/Six Flags did very little to invest in the park because it had flat attendance, and any major investment in the park was going to end up belonging to the Zoo anyway. I wonder if these management deals leave the operator with a disincentive to make major capital investments simply because the operator has only a limited stake in the property and besides, some of the money that would ordinarily be reinvested in the property has to be shared with the property owner. So why do anything to improve the property if enough locals will come to make it at least marginally profitable? Okay, so it results in a sad looking place with an overwhelming attitude of, "Who cares?".

But the infrastructure is there. It needs improvements to existing attractions, and it needs a signature ride, something that gives people a reason to go to Great America instead of somewhere else. Now that the land use issue is apparently settled, I suspect that will happen sooner rather than later. In any case, no matter who is running the place, there's no reason it can't be a great park.

As for the implosion of the sale...we don't know why that happened. Maybe it was a problem of the sort that Jeff alluded to, or maybe it was a problem with the buyer. Maybe they couldn't extend their credit enough to complete the sale. It's none of our business, therefore we aren't going to find out.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____

Friday, December 9, 2011 5:20 PM
Maverick00's avatar

I also have to agree that a new signature attraction needs to come to CGA. My family was planning a trip this summer to CGA, but the more we looked into it, we decided it would be better to go to SFDK. I'm sure CGA is a great park, SFDK just has a better roller coaster selection and thrill ride selection. It also doesn't help that CGA was no longer going to be owned by Cedar Fair, and SFDK is getting a new coaster.

Cedar Point will always be The Roller Coaster Capital of the World, regardless of the number of coasters they have.

Friday, December 9, 2011 6:32 PM
mlnem4s's avatar

For the record, there was no implosion of the sale of CGA. The park will remain a CF property because it is producing results and it fits into a long-term strategy for growth in an important market for CF. Whatever people "think they know about the park" from past managers and/or Paramount Parks officials in no way reflects the reality of the park today. The park is in the hands of great leadership and will see the benefits of that in the future.

Friday, December 9, 2011 8:18 PM
Jeff's avatar

A called-off sale is, by definition, imploded.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

Friday, December 9, 2011 9:11 PM

I would say there are too many unknowns to speak in definitives.

Friday, December 9, 2011 11:56 PM

And that's just the known unknowns. Who knows how many unknown unknowns there are... ;)

My author website:

Saturday, December 10, 2011 12:00 AM
john peck's avatar

I am not trying to add fuel to the fire, but I stand behind my "dump" comment. It's the closest word that fits, unfortunately. It's nothing personal against the park, so let's get rid of that thought right now.

I enjoyed my trip to CGA, It was a nice park. Decent rides, and an assortment of other well-rounded attractions. But it is what it is, the park is self-sustaining, otherwise it would have closed years ago.

Cedar Fair were ready to invest in CGA, the GCI sketches don't lie. They wanted that coaster, but the constant fighting with the city and neighbors and stadium held everything up. Like it or not, it's all politics, and THAT is the real problem. Paramount dealt with it, Marriott dealt with it, Cedar Fair dealt with it.

The fact they dropped the lawsuit is encouraging, sounds like somewhere along the lines there is an agreement with the powers that be. Good things may happen.

Last edited by john peck, Saturday, December 10, 2011 12:01 AM

You must be logged in to post

POP Forums - ©2021, POP World Media, LLC