Posted Monday, January 3, 2005 11:16 AM | Contributed by Jeff
Conneaut officials have submitted their plan to a judge, indicating that they can open without a loan, obtain a grant and begin paying down its $2 million debt. The judge has not yet scheduled a public hearing.
Read more from AP via The Daily Item.
While Conneaut does need all the business it can get, maybe those ignorant folks are best staying away. I'd hate to go to the park and hear a bunch of chatter about how great Millennium Force and TTD are. I hear enough of that at just about every other park in the country for some strange reason.
Conneaut Lake is definitely a different breed of park- the ride-ops are unusual yet mostly friendly, parking is free as is general admission, and the whole place does have sort of a "down-on-its-luck" feel. Yet somehow, I still manage to have a great time there. The atmosphere is something that no theme park can ever re-create. It really does feel like you are there with the ghosts of visitors from a time long ago.
While I'm not exactly the most respected guy around here, I can honestly say that I am one of those weird enthusiasts that enjoys parks like Cedar Point and Conneaut equally. I appreciate them for what each has to offer.. and while CLP isn't a big-time themer, I still enjoy a stroll down the classic midway just taking in the sights and being thankful that I live in an area with so many great choices when it comes to my favorite hobby! :)
Anyway, I think it's downright hilarious that you have a problem with me calling others ignorant for having an opinion. I'm trying to figure how many times I've seen you say that someone's opinion is "stupid" but I think I just exhausted the battery in my calculator.
Now I'll go back to my state of "weakness" where I dream up ridiculous things like "Cedar Point Bias".
*** This post was edited by Rob Ascough 1/3/2005 3:44:32 PM ***
Nope, I've never been there, and I have no compelling reason to go. It might seem remarkable, but that has nothing to do with Cedar Point or even little FEC's like Rinky Dink near me. Can you believe there's no cosmic connection between the two?
Now if you wanted to explore the reasons why I drive 20 minutes to a Cinemark when there's a locally-owned theater a mile from me, then you'd be going in the right direction. If you wanted to talk about why Medieval Times would open a new venue in a giant suburban Baltimore mall and not Erie, PA, we'd have something to talk about. Or how about this, they built an NBA arena in downtown Cleveland and tore down one in Richfield, Ohio, there's something to think about.
See a pattern there? Quality and location have everything to do with having a viable business, especially a leisure/hospitality business. If you could stop waving your enthusiast flag and put down your "Jeff's a big jerk" banner for two minutes and respond to that, perhaps we'd get somewhere.
I'm not sure why you drive 20 minutes to what sounds like a cineplex when you have a local theater but I can imagine it being the same reason that I did the same back when there was a small local theater in Morristown. I like cineplexes- they have a lot of theaters, a lot of show times, lots of parking and comfortable seats. I imagine that your reasons for liking them are the same as mine.
Medieval Times is a joke. I've been there twice before and I can't ever see myself going again. That said, I can understand why a spectacle along those lines is built in a heavily-populated area. You need lots of kids to fill a place like that and cities like East Rutherford, Baltimore and Kissimmee have kids in spades. I'm not a moron- I understand logic like that.
My point (in the other Conneaut news topic) was that a small amusement park/resort could be popular and profitable in that area of Pennsylvania. It's not that far from numerous population centers and I find it hard to believe that there isn't room in that region for another amusement park. If you ever do take the time to venture out that way, maybe you'll see for yourself why many people feel that way. Maybe you'll even find something to like about the place; something that you'd like to see preserved so you can go back and experience it again.
As for the basketball arena deal, that puzzles me. Believe it or not, our local paper here in NJ had an article about a bunch of money that was poured into downtown Cleveland in the form of stadiums and an arena and no good has yet to come of any of it. From what I read, the plan to revitalize downtown Cleveland with sports venues has been a complete failure, which makes me wonder why the old one was torn down. It reminds me of what's going on here in northern NJ right now- there is a perfectly good arena in East Rutherford (the town where Medieval Times is located) that has easy highway access and plenty of parking but some idiots want to build an arena in congested downtown Newark where there are no direct highways to the location and no parking. Go figure.
That aside, the point was that they could put more butts in the seats for basketball and concerts being downtown.
You might find it hard to believe, but that's the reality here, and Gonchar touched on some of the reasons why in the previous news item. The nearest "big city" is Youngstown, which is like the armpit of Ohio (Lima being the other one). Since the steel industry went away, that part of the state has practically been in ruins financially. As has been mentioned, if you live in Pittsburgh, Cleveland or Buffalo, you've got much better alternatives.
It's not that far from numerous population centers and I find it hard to believe that there isn't room in that region for another amusement park... Maybe you'll even find something to like about the place...
I'm sure I would find something I like about the place, but the park doesn't need just me, they need a whole lot of people. What I want, or what enthusiasts want, is not an issue. Why would John Q. Public take his family out there if he has Geauga Lake, Kennywood/Sandcastle or, dare I say it, Darien Lake closer by? It's not a question of those parks being "better" as much as they're closer and have more to offer.
Like I said, this region hit its market saturation for amusement park decades ago, and there were a lot of casualties. If Conneaut can find its niche and hold on to it, God bless them, but don't pin its failure on people like me that live a hundred miles away with more convenient and higher quality options.
Oh, and Medieval Times is the bomb (the Baltimore one is especially polished). Great fun, especially in large groups.
*** This post was edited by Jeff 1/3/2005 5:01:58 PM ***
For some odd reason if KW was not an option (just play along :) ) and my choice were GL for $25 and a 2 hour drive or CLP for half the price and the same drive - I'm heading to Aurora. Again, all factors considered it's a better day for me (and I'm not exactly a GL fan)
I've visted CLP once each of the past two seasons, but only because we passed by on the way to Waldameer. Not that Waldameer is anything special, but it was our first trip to the park in 2003 and we went up to check out Steel Dragon in 2004. In 2005 we won't be heading to Waldameer and in turn will not be stopping by CLP. In comparison, I'll probably hit KW at least twice and even probably stop by Fun Fore All again sometime this year.
Most of my life I lived in Butler, PA. It's approximately equidistant between CLP and KW. In the years I lived there (long before I attached the enthusiast tag to myself) I visited KW probably 25 times and CLP twice (once just because of a concert they held there) - most of the people I know in the are have a similar pattern.
My wife grew up farther north in the Oil City/Franklin area. Now the distance is just a half hour or so to CLP and an hour and a half or two to KW - guess what? She visited Kennywood more by around a 3 to 1 ratio during her years growing up there. Again, people we know have similar patterns.
Those are just my personal real world experiences, but I think they're very indicitive of the mentality of the area. CLP is a park with little to offer to the GP and not enough potential customers nearby for which the park would make the most sense based on it's close proximity.
The truth is that while us enthusiast types appreciate and even hold the "small park charm" in high esteem, the average visitor sees CLP as a sad, run down park that's a mere shell of it's former self. The few people I know who've visited recently after a long hiatus from the park all echo those thoughts - "sad, this place used to be so nice, so many great memories it's a shame, etc"
I mentioned it in the other news item, but the only thing I think they could change to get people there and spending money is return to bringing in B-List acts for concerts during the summer. It's give people a reason to go and with the type of artists they'd draw, it'd tie in with the whole nostaligia thing quite nicely. Beyond that, what could the park really add (ride-wise) to draw people away from parks that may be closer or offer more bang for the buck? Nothing big enough to pull Pittsburgh residents away from KW or eastern Oh residents from GL or CP - at least not in numbers that would make a meaningful difference.
They can't compete with GL's 10 coasters, KW's 5 and excellent flat selection or at this point even Waldameer's Woodie/Spinning Mouse/better flats combo.
I'd be willing to bet a large sum of money that if you did a survey of people in the western PA counties who visited at least one amusement park in their life - that you'd find most have been to KW, CP, Idlewild and Hershey more than they've visited CLP. The numbers would get better in CLP's favor as the people you asked got older and worse as they got younger. CLP is not a destination, it's VERY local and those local residents beyond the immediate area tend to prefer the other choices available.
Again, repeating myself from the other news item, but CLP will never compete with the other parks. They can survive for a long time to come, but the park will never be much more than it currently is - especially with the financial troubles they have to overcome.
Take off the enthusiasts goggles and try to remember what it's like to be GP for a little bit. For me, that isn't so long ago and I grew up in the area - most of life was spent as GP living in western PA - trust me, not many people in Western PA are interested in CLP. That's not to say they wouldn't enjoy it once they spent the day there, but to say that there's nothing drawing them there in the first place.
*** This post was edited by Lord Gonchar 1/3/2005 6:04:43 PM ***
I will say you hit that nail on the head for the inner-city only of Youngstown, until the civic center is completed, but the surrounding Mahoning Valley is already a thriving area, and if you would come visit the populations of the Boardman township (which has more residents than the city of Youngstown), or Austintown, or Niles, you would see a big margin of difference in what you 'think' and what 'is'.
The biggest problem we have here is the outside press and non-residents talking about the 25 year old dead-steel industry. There may be no amusement park here anymore (Idora Park), but there is alot more to do here for families, and at more affordable prices that in most other areas of Ohio.
We have the NY-Penn League 'A' 2004 Champions, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, which I know you never even heard of, even though they are the largest A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians....plus the junior-league hockey team , the Youngstown Phantoms, and a CHL hockey team as well as indoor/arena football team coming to the new Youngstown Convocation Center that will be finished in 9 months.
Does this also mean that no one knows about the celebrities that visit Youngstown to for the historic Stambaugh Auditorium for performances, nor anyone visits the prestigious Butler Institute of American Art, which is a worldwide known facility?
There isn't everything to do here for everyone, i can attest, but this place is no where near a dump or 'armpit' if you really lived in this area. I wish more people would see that in their own communities, because I'm tired of hearing "there's nothing to do" from everyone in every part of the country I've visited.
As for the CLP issue, I wonder if it's also and issue of the proximity between CLP and Waldameer in Erie....it's only 35 minutes between the 2 parks, and Waldameer just keeps getting better, but CLP just remains open, with little change.
*** This post was edited by midwave 1/3/2005 7:14:07 PM ***
Jeff and Gonch: I understand what is being said about there being better alternatives to CLP in the area... what I'm asking is for you to play along with me here.
Suppose someone came along with some money and decided to turn CLP into a miniature resort. We're talking a real beach for bathing, perhaps an area set aside for volleyball and other beach-y activities. An outdoor concert venue for bands and shows. A small ballpark for baseball and softball games. The Hotel Conneaut (slightly modernized) to simulate a classic bed-and-breakfast experience. A small area dedicated to shops, maybe an outdoor marketplace for nice summer days. And to top it all off, a small traditional amusement park with a good mix of old and new rides. I think that sounds like something that would be appealing to people in the area, of which there are many. Pittsburgh and Erie are an hour or so away. Cleveland is two hours. People in the NJ area drive a lot further for a long weekend on the Jersey Shore... why wouldn't people drive a shorter distance for a miniature resort like the one I mentioned?
Right now, CLP is run-down, no doubt about that. I can sit here and talk like an enthusiast, proclaiming the park to be charming and full of character but I realize that few people share my point-of-view. I'd rather enjoy CLP for what it is today- supporting it as it struggles to stay alive- and hope that one day, someone will come along and realize that there is money to be made with that park and that land- money that doesn't include the building of condos or houses. Once someone realizes that, I think that CLP could evolve into quite a little destination.
Who knows? If the park stops having to fight lawsuit after lawsuit, maybe the people running the place will be able to focus on growing the park rather than worrying about how they'll support the next round of legal fees?
As you mentioned Jeff, I'm sure you could find something nice about Conneaut, whether it be the balls-to-the-wall experience of the Blue Streak, the rush that comes from a long ride on the indoor Scrambler or a nice dinner and drinks at the Beach Club on Saturday night as a local band takes the stage. It's not a typical amusement park experience, but it certainly feels honest and far from contrived. It's the anti-Cedar Point and I wish that more people would take advantage of the chance to see that it isn't such a bad thing.
I'd rather have someone come to me and tell me that they hate the park rather than assume that they won't like it but never give it a chance. Then again, if someone were to give the park a chance, I'm sure they can find something nice to say about it, something that will make them wish for someone with a vision and some money to come along.
Yes, The Flats are a dump and in decline. You can chalk that up to drunk people drowning in the river and a couple of places losing their liquor licenses for underage consumption, as well as ridiculous rent down there. It's a damn shame, and it really went into decline just in the last few years. The development (and recent decline) of The Flats really had nothing to do with Gateway, as they predate that complex.
But the Warehouse District, while somewhat replacing The Flats as a night spot, has turned so much of that space into nice living units. Retail hasn't done well in Tower City, but the decline of BP and Key Bank (two formerly huge employers on that block) certainly isn't helping things. The Tower City Amphitheater sure is bringing a lot of people back down there though. Filling those residential units will help too. The only big grocery store I can think of is way out on E.12 in an upscale apartment building.
Gateway itself, which most consider the few blocks north and east of the stadium and arena (I-90 is south and the huge drop into The Flats is west) is really doing pretty well. Lot of turnover in restaurants around 2000 or so, but the ones that really know what they're doing are always busy (God bless the Winking Lizard).
Now that I read the article (again), I see that it mentions the death of nightclubs in the Flats. Is this a case of one area prospering at the expense of another (Gateway vs. the Flats)? Maybe there isn't enough demand for nighclubs and upscale restaurants in two areas and that has contributed to the death of the Flats?
Maybe the question I should be asking is: Are the new venues bringing in the crowds? You mentioned the old basketball arena being demolished for the new one (Gund Arena?)- has attendance increased since the new arena was built? Do the Browns sell out their home games? How about the Indians? I guess what I'm really asking is, are the venues pulling their own weight or are they struggling to get people to come to the area?
Are the venues pulling their weight? Yes, they aren't a drain or negative at all. Remember that Gateway was not an entirely public project (Browns Stadium might have been, but if we were ever going to have football again, city-owned Municiple Stadium had to be replaced before it fell down). There's a really good history about The Gund and Richfield here:
I stopped going to The Flats just because I grew out of that phase. Last time I was down there was at The Improv last January (Christopher Titus) and shortly after for a club down there. Both are in the old power house, which is adjacent to the Scene Concert Stage. It's the more upscale side of The Flats and still doing OK. It's the dives on the east bank that have really fizzled.
Regardless, if you would've told me 15 years ago that people would live, eat and entertain downtown, I'd say you were crazy. Back then there was no Gund Arena, Jacobs Field, Rock Hall, Science Center, and Playhouse Square was kind of run down. Columbus has seen similar redevelopment with Nationwide Arena and the convention center.
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