Conneaut Lake debt rises over $2 million

Posted Wednesday, November 1, 2006 3:21 PM | Contributed by Jeff

Conneaut Lake Park went in debt another $225,000 this year, taking the total amount of money it now owes from $1.9 million at the beginning of the year to $2.160 million. A financial report filed Tuesday in the Crawford County Prothonotary’s Office shows the park’s loss from Jan. 1 to Oct. 15, which includes unpaid real estate taxes of $37,472.48.

Read more from The Meadville Tribune.

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Wednesday, November 1, 2006 4:15 PM
What will be done about that debt? Will they sell off that land or not? will such a sale help much?

More seriously, that weather didn't help. All of that rain and the Blue Streak being struck by lightning.

The one thing that might help is the end of Erieview. Fright Zone might help draw the people that used to go to the Ohio park. Meanwhile, they have to decide what to do about that Ferris Wheel that appears to be on its last legs.

The real test for CLP will be in 2008 when Waldameer opens Ravine Flyer 2. Will a lot of people bypass Conneaut to go and ride that new coaster. And what will the effect be if Kennywood adds another coaster now that they have room to do this?

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Wednesday, November 1, 2006 4:32 PM
Actually, the only thing Fright Zone might be is another thing to sell when bankruptcy finally occurs.

Really, the place is $2 million in debt and borrowing to operate. Do they know that you cannot borrow your way out of debt (no matter what DiTech et al says)?

Can CLP ever generate enough revenue to effectively service that debt? Even if there is a place and a business plan that would work, it may be impossible to implement it with this anchor of debt.

Who is loaning this money? It's got to be a crazy interest rate, because it has got to be high risk. I don't see how CLP is going to avoid defaulting on the debt some time. The vultures are circling, and no enthusiast movement will chase them away.

With a small park that hasn't made a profit in forever with that kind of debtload, it's hit Powerball or slump into the sunset.

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Wednesday, November 1, 2006 4:46 PM
If I'm not mistaken, there is a decent chunk of unused land this is titled "Zoo" on the map. You can barely see it from Blue Streak. It doesn't look like the land is being used at all. Why not sell that portion?

I visited this park over the summer. There's something about it that really appealed to me.

Sadly, I don't think there's anything that can be done. This park will eventually go bankrupt and disappear forever.

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Wednesday, November 1, 2006 5:50 PM
It's a shame the park is in debt. I agree with Perrysburg Guy, the Fright Zone will be something to sell if it gets any worse. It's a shame because I love the Blue Streak, but it's going to need a lot of TLC, and will only put them deeper in debt.

I don't think 2008 will be good to the park, if it lasts that long (Williams Grove, I'm looking in your direction...).
*** This post was edited by Arson 11/1/2006 5:51:02 PM ***

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Wednesday, November 1, 2006 6:35 PM
Raven-Phile's avatar Visit while you can, guys....

-Josh

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Wednesday, November 1, 2006 7:17 PM
Weather, hmmmm. Let's see. I tried to visit the park this summer on a day that started out rainy. We got there an hour early and paid for parking. Then we noticed the parking attendent was gone about 20 minutes later. People came and went. Lots of them. They pulled in, some even parked and walked up, then they left again. We were curious as to why they kept doing this, but we still waited in hopes of getting in the park.

We wandered up to the gates at opening time only to find out that closed for the day! By the time the park was opening, the weather was clearing up. We asked for our parking money back and the lady was like, you paid for parking??? Yeah... she radioed to the back of the park and had someone come up and give us our money back. Rather bizarre now that the sun was coming out.

Maybe they jumped the gun a little too much like that this summer. Maybe they closed the park a lot when the weather looked threatening? I can't say for sure because that was just one day there. I spend the night at a hotel that night to visit the park the next day when I could have just gone straight home. I wasn't a happy camper that day, but we left and went home with no chance of the park opening.

I really like Conneaut Lake Park, but I can't say that the people in charge always make the best business decisions. I admit, it is hard to determine how the weather will act, but they made the decision much too early that day in my opinion. It's a fine line, will they have enough guests to pay for the employees and electricity, or is it cheaper to just close the park? How many people got turned away from the park on those days and got discouraged? Is that worth the money saved by not opening the park?

I have to admit, I can't make my plans revolve around a day at the park anymore if they won't open it. It's not worth spending the money on a hotel and the drive only to find a closed park.

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Thursday, November 2, 2006 1:43 AM
Where will the rides be several years from now. Heres a possibility wor some of the rides worth saving.

Carousel -- tough call. Will it get chopped for collectors? Of course Lakemont could use one but can they afford it? I doubt it.

Blue Streak -- Rebuild it at Idlewild??? They could really use a mid-sized woodie to become more like Knoebels or Holiday World.

Tumble Bug -- I believe Dick Knoebel would love to have one of these. Lake Compounce is another possibility.

Fright Zone -- That would be another good addition to Idlewild or DelGrossos with a little sprucing up.

Devils Den -- Maybe this is something that Lakemont could afford to acquire. I don't believe that either of the Altoona parks has a darkride.

Hopefully this won't happen. Its time that more of us support parks like Conneaut so they survive.

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Thursday, November 2, 2006 5:07 AM
coasterqueenTRN's avatar :(

I hope next year will be better for the park. For those of you who haven't visited PLEASE do so next year! It's an awesome little park and they need your support!

-Tina

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Thursday, November 2, 2006 8:19 AM
Unfortunately, I think you may be a little 'optimistic' Arthur about the relocation of some of Conneaut's rides if CLP were to close down for good. The condition of some of these rides, although operational at Conneaut, may not appeal to most of the park owners that you listed. I seriously doubt that the Blue Streak or Devil's Den will ever get moved intact. To see these rides live on, we have to hope that CLP can overcome their debt problem, and soon!
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Thursday, November 2, 2006 8:47 AM

Actually, the only thing Fright Zone might be is another thing to sell when bankruptcy finally occurs.

Okay, fill me in. What is "Fright Zone"?

I've only been to Conneaut Lake once (in 2002)... either I don't recall what that is, or its new.

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Thursday, November 2, 2006 9:13 AM
The rides are not going anywhere. Period.
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Thursday, November 2, 2006 9:14 AM
Fright Zone is the old West View Park darkride that recently operated at Geneva-on-the-Lake on Ohio. It was restored by DAFE a few years ago. But people are confused because Conneaut doesn't own the ride, therefore if the park was closed and auctioned/sold off, Fright Zone would not be part of that. The ride was purchased by an independent buyer and some sort of arrangement was reached where the ride will be "loaned" to the park for its benefit.

I know the situation with Conneaut always seems to be grim and I don't want to downplay any bad news as anything to ignore, but let's keep in mind that bad Conneaut news is always something that comes this time of year and things always get worked out. I think if the park continues to improve (which it clearly did in 2006), I think the financial situation will eventually improve as well.

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Thursday, November 2, 2006 9:56 AM
The fact that people said that CLP did well this year is what makes me sure that it can't survive. They still had to borrow a couple hundred grand just to keep operating.

Even with the "loaned" Fright Zone, they need volunteers to move it and install it. If the park liquidates, will the owner be able to retrieve and store it?

CLP seems like the homeless guy in the movie Groundhog Day that the Bill Murray character keeps trying to save, only to discover it's just his time. CLP is the enthusiasts' favorite charity, but it may be time to stop throwing good money after bad.

I'm surprised that they have lasted this long, but they're are just prolonging the inevitable and creating a harder fall with every new dollar to default on. Like I said before, who is loaning this money. Is the land collateral enough for this amount?

Any way, this particular Mr. Ed has long assumed room temperature. I'll stop striking it with my blunt instrument.

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Thursday, November 2, 2006 1:08 PM
I took my family to CLP this summer and we really enjoyed ourselves. I hope that they can survive as an old fashioned amusement park, but it looks kind of grim. It appears they have alot of unused property by the water that should be worth quite a bit, but I wonder if it's worth over $2 million ?
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Thursday, November 2, 2006 1:20 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar Doesn't matter if it's worth $2 million or not.

If they keep operating at a $225,000 loss each year, they'd be $2 million in debt again in less than a decade.

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Thursday, November 2, 2006 1:50 PM
rollergator's avatar But carrying a debt load of $2M, isn't it safe to *guess* that about half of that 225K in red ink is simply interest on the outstanding debt? If so, then they're considerably closer to breaking even - SHOULD they manage to get out of that cumbersome debt in the first place...

Also, weird to me that the numbers are roughly .1% of those bandied about for SFI...and *almost* small enough so that the dollar figures are something *I* can relate to... :)

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Thursday, November 2, 2006 3:03 PM
I do believe that the Tumble Bug would get a new home after all the work that was done on it. As I mentioned before, something like that would be just the kind of thing that Knoebels might consider putting in their park if they can get a hold of it. I really believe they would be happy to have a Bug. As for Blue Streak, if it is impractical to move it because of its condition, maybe a replica built from the original plans would be a good addition for Idlewild some day. Idlewild really could use a bigger wooden coaster and this design would fit in nicely with the type of park that Idlewild is.

The best thing of course is for Conneaut lake to survive. Remember that 2008 is going to be the critical year in all likelihood because of what is happening at Waldameer.

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Thursday, November 2, 2006 4:09 PM
Living in the Erie/Crawford County areas I learned one thing about weather. YOU CANNOT DEPEND ON IT. This morning we had no snow now there's a few inches. A small park in the cold weather is not appealing at all. If Waldameer had some form of a Halloween event I wouldn't consider it. The weather is simply unpredictable and for the most part too cold.

As for the future this is how I see it. As Waldameer and Kennywood grow, the more CLP will fall. Since they have no money, they cannot afford a crowd drawing ride. They need to find a way out, but it seems too far out of reach. When Waldameer has added a spinning coaster, going to open a drop tower right now, and the Ravine Flyer II in '08, CLP is in major trouble if they can't keep up. Survival of the fittest!

By they way, the closest I'll get to the preview of Waldameer's X-Scream, this weekend, will be from the car. The region is just too cold to support amusement parks at this time of the year.

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Thursday, November 2, 2006 6:24 PM
You are right about that Darwinistic principle to some extent. Just remember West View and Idora.

West View pretty much kept up with Kennywood until around 1965. They added major attractions at a time when KW was concerned about whether their land lease would be renewed. Then West View's owner died and the heir did not want to make major investments in the park. Meanwhile around 1970, Kennywood bought their land (no more lease worries) and started building rides that West View couldn't afford to match. In 1978 West View closed.

Idora was doing fine for a long time until a lot of the big industries in the Youngstown area started shutting down in the 1970s. Meanwhile Geauga Lake and Cedar Point were attracting more people that used to go to Idora. The Wildcat coaster fire was the last straw. A year later the park, lacking its signature ride, closed for good.

If CLP is to survive it is going to have to capitalize on its nostalgic feeling. This is a park that is much the same as parks were say 30 years ago. (Lakeside in Denver is another park like this). The big question is, is this enough, expecially in a state that has so many parks that have preserved attractions from the past?

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