Cedar Fair wants Santa Clara to delay or reject 49ers deal

Posted Wednesday, June 3, 2009 11:14 AM | Contributed by Jeff

After approving a financing plan for a 49ers stadium, Santa Clara faces opposition from owners of the Great America theme park. In a letter to the mayor, lawyers representing Cedar Fair say the city should delay any vote for a month or reject the plan to build the stadium. The park's owners said the plan didn't address their concerns about parking and other potential financial losses. The team and the company have been in ongoing negotiations. Sources familiar with the talks have said the 49ers have discussed buying the park, which sits on city-owned land, or paying Ohio-based Cedar Fair more than $1 million a year to close Great America on game days.

Read more from The Mercury News.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009 12:57 PM

I read elsewhere that the 49ers want to use the stadium for other things besides football. If as few as ten events occur during the park season the $1 million a year the team is offering as compensation would barely cover the admission for 2,000 people. I would expect the park to get more than that on a typical operating day, plus all the money they would get from ancillary spending. I think the team needs to at least triple or quadruple that offer, or the park stands to lose money.

Last edited by Jeffrey Seifert, Wednesday, June 3, 2009 1:01 PM
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Wednesday, June 3, 2009 1:26 PM

^Which is probably why CF has not excepted the offer.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009 2:16 PM

$1 Million as a payment from the 49ers would be worth more than $1 Million in admissions and sales. If the park is closed on those days, there are no operating expenses. I'm not saying a million is enough. I'm just pointing out that it's not an apples to apples comparison.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009 6:23 PM

That's true, you wouldn't have to pay your hourly employees. But there have to be more operating expenses when you shut down a park for just a day in the middle of the season than there are when the park is dormant.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009 7:20 PM

Salaries are only part of it. All the utility savings from the rides not running, from the Kitchens/Food Stands and Laundries not operating, minimal lights needing to be on. I'm sure there are other things I'm not thinking of. They might even be able to get a reduced insurance rate for having fewer operating days. Again, I'm not saying $1 Million is the right number.

But, lets do an example with some unscientific round numbers. Lets say the average daily attendance on the day of a game is 10,000 with an Admission of $40 and Per Cap of $35.

So we have 10 games x 10,000 guests x $75 per guest = $7.5 Million

I don't think that's the right number either. Maybe $2.5 Million is the right number or maybe it's $5 Million. I don't know. That's for the big wigs to figure out.

Last edited by Jason Hammond, Wednesday, June 3, 2009 7:21 PM
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Wednesday, June 3, 2009 7:59 PM

Yes the big wigs, but not the small wigs...

It always surprises me when poeple assume that park closure means a savings. With a park the size of Great America I doubt they recieve a bill in the mail for thier kilowatt usage per month like a residential customer. In fact I would figure that being closed during certain operating days during the in season would be quite costly, as you still need to keep things like water filtration systems operating, guest relationsh staffed, and security. With no admissions coming in to offset that cost it seems that profitibility overall would de down.

My other concern is the real need for a large scale stadium project right now? Often when my local Fox affiliate is airing the Yankees game I am shocked to see just how empty the new, much needed stadium is. Teams claim they need the space, but in reality, right now I can think of better things that city governments could be spending their time and money on that sporting franchises. Now I realize that prohibiting a team from building a new stadium would lead to that franchise threatening to move to another city, as is the case with our local AAA baseball team. But I say unless you are selling out each and every game, no seat is left unsold for the entire season, and you can show the overwhelming need for such a project, then you should be treated just like any other business looking for expansion. Just my biased two cents, as I would rather have a theme park than a stadium complex in my city.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009 8:40 PM

In the good old days at other parks, hitting a 30% margin wasn't unheard of, and based on those per cap numbers, $2.5 million would seem reasonable. However, it ignores the fact that this is the dog of the chain (or so former Paramount Parks folks would tell you), so if they're already taking a hit, even that offer wouldn't be good enough.

At the end of the day, Cedar Fair has a lease, and I suspect this will go nowhere if that isn't resolved first. Timing is critical here, while the community is behind it, the city is behind it and the team is willing to follow through. If it gets bogged down in injunctions and delays, the cost of everything goes up, and the opportunity may pass.

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Friday, June 5, 2009 11:39 AM

I always thought the per cap figures included admission.

I also can't imagine it being good for the staff or the paying public for the park to just close for a day every now and then.

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Friday, June 5, 2009 12:37 PM

Game days are going to be Sundays from September through December. The park's season ends early November. After Labor Day, the park is going to be open weekends only anyway. Depending on the schedule the NFL sets, the Niners could have as many as 5 or 6 home games early in the season. So scheduling would interfere with whatever Halloween event Great America runs. How does this park draw for its Halloween event, particularly on Sundays?

On one hand, stadium proponents will say it's only a handful of days you'd have to close for games. But on the other, park proponents will say it's 4 or 5 days out of only 20-some they're open during the fall.

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Sunday, June 7, 2009 10:04 AM

^^I could be wrong, but I really don't think so. Cedar Point's seems to be in the $35+ range in the last few years.

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Sunday, June 7, 2009 12:03 PM

How about a multi-tiered parking garage? They seem to work for all of the corporate Orlando parks. What would be the only drawback?, drunken football fans won't be able to spend 8 hours before the game tailgating.

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Sunday, June 7, 2009 12:23 PM

Also you forgot the preseason which is a random set of 2-4 games in August.

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Sunday, June 7, 2009 2:47 PM

If the football games requires CGA's parking lot, then who will get to collect parking fees? What if CF was able to charge $20 a car on game days and keep all the parking revenues for themselves? Would that be considered favorable?

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Sunday, June 7, 2009 3:00 PM

Jason Hammond said:
^^I could be wrong, but I really don't think so. Cedar Point's seems to be in the $35+ range in the last few years.

Don't forget, per cap is simply total revenue divided by total head count. By the time you add in all the discount tickets, season passes, groups, juniors and seniors, twilight admissions, etc. with people paying the regular gate price the average admission price is much less. Then you add in the revenue from parking, food service, games, and souvenirs.

For every person who pays $43 at the gate, plus spends $20-30 in the park, you get a season pass holder who pays no admission or parking (that day) and spends maybe $10. $35-40 overall sounds about right.

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Sunday, June 7, 2009 9:07 PM

Who's getting in the park for $20 to $30?

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Monday, June 8, 2009 12:26 AM

^ According to the park's website, anyone shorter than 48 inches, anyone 62 years of age or older, anyone who enters the park after 5:00, and probably any season pass holder who visits the park more than 3-4 times. All those admissions dilute the numbers for those who pay full gate price.

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Monday, June 8, 2009 8:29 AM

That's true. I'm not sure why all I was thinking about was General Admission. Though the lack of sleep due to Coastermania and the motorcycle rally next to my hotel certainly didn't help.

Last edited by Jason Hammond, Monday, June 8, 2009 8:31 AM
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