Clementon Park to be auctioned off, as a park or piecemeal

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

Clementon Park and Splash World, a South Jersey amusement and water park that operated for more than 100 years, is on the auction block Tuesday. The 52-acre real estate, including a lake, as well as all the rides, water slides, and buildings it contains, are for sale either together or piecemeal.

Read more from WHYY/Philadelphia.

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hambone's avatar

Apparently someone bought the whole property.

Claim is that there are plans to reopen the park, but I think we can safely assume that they bought it just to close it.

Typo in the thread title. Specifically the park's name.

Jeff's avatar

Minor dyslexia still gets the best of me at times.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

hambone said:

Claim is that there are plans to reopen the park, but I think we can safely assume that they bought it just to close it.

I was only there once, but I remember it being quite crowded.

I imagine the business ought to be viable with the right management.

Gene Staples (Indiana Beach) bought it for $2.37M.

Seems cheap a liquor license here is worth 3-400K

I wish them luck.

Fun's avatar

The fundamentals here are interesting- purchasing this property at a dirt-cheap price right before what looks like be a promising travel season is the right timing. But, both parks were going to close after the 2019 season, well before the effects of the pandemic. Does this guy think he has the expertise to operate these properties and generate better returns compared to the previous operators? I think the only way to meaningfully do that is just to start with less debt.

Clementon needs a lot of work. The water park was decent for its size, but the dry rides side was in a pretty sad state with Hellcat being almost unrideable in recent years. I hope Gene Staples realizes what he's getting himself into, and isn't biting off more than he can chew. If an experienced operator like Premier Parks couldn't make it work, I'm not super confident that he will fare any better.

hambone's avatar

The NYT goes long with an article about the auction and Staples' decision to buy it. A nice article and the photos make clear there's a lot to get done.

The difference between Premier and Gene Staples is that Premier has shareholders who are expecting a particular rate of return and will make their unhappiness known if they don't get it. Staples, on the other hand, can just break even year in and year out and be perfectly happy with that. In turn, that frees him to think differently about short- and long-term investments and other business decisions where there may not be an obvious ROI.

Fun's avatar

Sounds like the hope strategy is in full effect!

“When you have investors and shareholders, you can’t make decisions based on emotion and passion, which is how these places were built,” he said. “You have to treat a family park like family would. You need to think outside the box, not ‘go to the board.’ You make decisions by saying, ‘let’s do it,’ whether it’s rational or not.”

Jeff's avatar

It depends on who your investors are, and what their expectations are. Private equity can be total build-and-flip, but others who can accept longer term risk may be willing to see something more durable than quarterly results. And that range (or slider, if you will) can happen with a single partner as an investor, not just in public companies.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

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