Cedar Fair to acquire the land under California's Great America for approximately $150 million

Posted Wednesday, March 27, 2019 9:16 AM | Contributed by Jeff

From the press release:

Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN), a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and immersive entertainment, today announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire the land upon which its California’s Great America amusement park is located for approximately $150 million. The Company has leased the land from the City of Santa Clara since the origin of the park in 1976.

Cedar Fair President and CEO Richard A. Zimmerman said, “This is a once in a generation opportunity to solidify our control of 112 acres in the heart of Santa Clara. The transaction underscores our long-term commitment to enhancing and expanding California’s Great America, insuring a high-quality, family-friendly entertainment destination for those who live and work in Northern California.”

The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2019, subject to terms of a purchase and sale agreement with the Successor Agency to the former Redevelopment Agency of the City of Santa Clara, the land’s current owner. The Company intends to finance this transaction through additional long-term borrowings.

Read the entire press release from Cedar Fair.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019 10:49 AM

I still remember when Great America was expected to become the next park to get Geauga Lake-d. This seems to be great news for the future of that park, and I can imagine Cedar Fair will be glad to stop paying rent on their own park.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2019 11:34 AM

If anything has kept them from investing, it was certainly this. All things considered, for the bay area, this is probably not the worst price ever.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2019 11:41 AM

Don’t they share parking with the stadium? Any word on how they will handle that?

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Wednesday, March 27, 2019 6:03 PM

They do and have for a few years. I've been close to 30 times in the last 3 years and I've never been on a stadium event day, but there aren't *that* many times where both are open.

This is very good news for CGA, as it shows CF putting the "maybe we will, maybe we won't" era in the past. I've heard rumors of a B&M hyper coming, and I can only hope. It's pretty close to a major airport, but does have a 2nd gen Intamin drop and an observation tower.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2019 8:37 PM

This sounds like great news.

I believe Cedar Fair agreed to close the Amusement Park for home NFL games to allow the parking lot to be used for the stadium. This agreement isn't likely to change any time soon. Although I suspect the amusement park will be there long after the stadium is gone.

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Thursday, March 28, 2019 8:53 AM

I'm not familiar with FAA regulations regarding structure heights, but the closest point of the airport to the closest point of the amusement park is about 2 miles. That being said, I remember some rumors floating around about the height of Valravn. The front of Cedar Point was within the restricted perimeter of the Griffing Airport. Valravn is a bit over 3 miles away) And even though the airport had closed, the park still had to abide by the rules. If this is true, that may have been one of the motivating factors to buy that land and help redevelop it. I have no sources for this information, but it's a good story at least. :-)

Last edited by Jason Hammond, Thursday, March 28, 2019 8:54 AM
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Thursday, March 28, 2019 4:40 PM

Soooo excited about this! I'm a Santa Clara resident myself, and yeah rumors have been flying for several years about the future of this park... this finally locks it in as being here to stay and here to invest in.

The agreement about 9er games will definitely remain. When I go to a game, not only is the stadium parking lot completely full, but also the CGA lot, as well as 2 off-site lots are always completely full. The stadium would have nowhere near enough sustainable parking without CGA's lot. It's nice though... for many games, they have tailgating in the parking lot, and they open the side entrance of CGA for people with game tickets to ride Flight Deck with little to no line before the games start. It's a cool little perk for going to the games.

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Friday, March 29, 2019 8:17 AM

Jason Hammond said:

I'm not familiar with FAA regulations regarding structure heights, but the closest point of the airport to the closest point of the amusement park is about 2 miles. That being said, I remember some rumors floating around about the height of Valravn. The front of Cedar Point was within the restricted perimeter of the Griffing Airport. Valravn is a bit over 3 miles away) And even though the airport had closed, the park still had to abide by the rules. If this is true, that may have been one of the motivating factors to buy that land and help redevelop it. I have no sources for this information, but it's a good story at least. :-)

Very possible. Charlotte's airport is 5 miles away from Carowinds and I've heard there's a 400-foot height restriction on anything in the park.

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Friday, March 29, 2019 7:55 PM

Carowinds has to get a waiver for anything they build over a certain height, but it’s way lower than 400’. They had to get permission to build Fury from the FAA.

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Friday, March 29, 2019 9:06 PM

California's Great America does have approval to build a ride up to 210' tall, although interestingly that expires in May. I would think once you obtain this determination, it's likely you could get it again.

https://oeaaa.faa.gov/oeaaa/external/searchAction.jsp?action=displayOECase&oeCaseID=346970235&row=0

(h/t some other website)

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Saturday, March 30, 2019 6:23 AM

For those of you unfamiliar with how FAA height restrictions work, this illustration: http://cache.boston.com/bonzai-fba/Globe_Graphic/2008/09/26/globegiftastic__1222409105_3117.gif

shows how the limits around Logan in Boston work (I only share this one because I worked for Massport for a while and I'm familiar with it). Basically the height limit radius for 200-400' is waaaay less than a mile let alone two. What is more important though is the directions of the runways. As you can see, downtown Boston is not in the path of the runways which is why they can build so tall so close to the airport. Carowinds or Great America would probably still need a height variance, but it is unlikely that the airport proximity would be a limiting factor.

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Monday, April 1, 2019 9:55 AM

Here's some additional context about the sale:

https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/03/28/great-america-amusement-park-buys-city-land-for-150-million/

It appears the city's hand was forced by state legislation, but Cedar Fair had the option to match any potential bid to buy the land.

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