Former ACE president wants retail around Geauga Lake's Big Dipper

Posted Monday, November 12, 2007 7:28 PM | Contributed by Jason Hammond

A group hoping to preserve Geauga Lake's Big Dipper envisions the nation's seventh-oldest roller coaster as the centerpiece of a ride-themed retail complex where the amusement park once operated. The goal is to find a developer willing to build around the old monster of the midway and use the relic as a kitschy anchor tenant, said Carole Sanderson, former president of American Coaster Enthusiasts or ACE.

Read more from The Plain Dealer.

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Monday, November 12, 2007 7:40 PM
How is this real news? Is just an "important" person wanting something. So if I was "important", anything I dreamed off would be printed in the news too?
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Monday, November 12, 2007 7:42 PM
I don't know what would be more painful- watching Big Dipper be demolished, or watching it rot and decay SBNO in the presence of a crappy mini mall.I'd rather be riding Big Dipper than eating at a McDonald's under it. I rode it on what would be its last day of operation and I had a spectacular ride. Despite all the non-love for this ride, it's my favorite woodie.
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Monday, November 12, 2007 7:42 PM
Well it's a better step than all the whiners and complainers are taking.
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Monday, November 12, 2007 8:10 PM
Jason Hammond's avatar She's not just a former president of ACE.

"Sanderson, who owns a local architecture firm, said she has spoken with a handful of interested investors."

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Monday, November 12, 2007 8:10 PM
Personally, I think it's a great idea, if a suitable backer can be found. Look at the Giant Dipper at Belmont Park in San Diego for how well something like this can turn out. I just hope that the Dipper gets saved whether in Aurora, or somewhere else.
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Monday, November 12, 2007 8:57 PM
CF and other prospective buyers would have a lot to say about whether this idea flies. Is CF interested in selling the property in pieces, or do they just want to sell the whole parcel for as much and as quickly as possible? Would they be open to selling 20 acres right now and holding on to the rest for a later sale? If so, the idea has a good chance.

Would CF nix any idea that includes the coaster remaining? Would it make them look bad that someone else could come along with a plan that allows development AND the coaster?

As far as other buyers so, would they want to be next to a 20-acre lot that contains a wooden coaster? Would the two uses be compatible-- would there be concerns about noise, etc.? If CF finds someone willing to pay a good price for the whole enchilada, this discussion is moot.

Just things to discuss. If you don't agree, don't have a stroke.

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Monday, November 12, 2007 9:32 PM
What a great idea. Kinda like the Mission Beach Giant Dipper?
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Monday, November 12, 2007 11:29 PM
I actually thought about the same thing! I looked at aerial pics of the area and can see that happening. It would leave a LOT of space for residential and commercial development around it as well. There are a lot of locals who will be really missing the park this Summer and beyond.

Her idea for the ACE Museum could be feasible as well. If this museum ever builds, it would make sense to make it as central in the States as possible. It would also make sense to be near a historic amusment park area (Geauga, Euclid, Chippewa & Conneaut) as well as that of one of the most well attended parks (Cedar Point) in the country.

Don't knock it. Think about it. *** This post was edited by CastleKing 11/12/2007 11:38:47 PM ***

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Monday, November 12, 2007 11:30 PM
Mamoosh's avatar I don't know what would be more painful- watching Big Dipper be demolished, or watching it rot and decay SBNO in the presence of a crappy mini mall.

Spoken by someone who, I'm guessing, has never been to Belmont Park in San Diego.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007 12:02 AM
It seems like a great idea on paper. However, the willingness of Cedar Fair to allow that to stand opposite something that they still control might create a problem. I'm sure they would want to differentiate their product, from something they don't want there anymore.

The idea for the museum would be really cool, because of how storied some of the parks have become in the Cleveland area. The idea of running the ride and charging for its upkeep seems to remind me of the Blue Streak Marathons at Conneaut to create revenue to keep all of this going. It just will all come down to Cedar Fair, and what side the almighty dollar sides on.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007 12:32 AM
I don't know what would be more painful- watching Big Dipper be demolished, or watching it rot and decay SBNO in the presence of a crappy mini mall.

Spoken by someone who, I'm guessing, has never been to Belmont Park in San Diego.

Belmont Park in San Diego has one important thing Geauga Lake could never have: nearly year round operation of the Big Dipper. At best, in the Cleveland climate, a rollercoaster could run from April until November. Outside of that, who would want to ride when there was 18" or more of snow on the ground.

Don't get me wrong. I'd love to see Big Dipper survive, as its demise knocks out the two oldest coasters in Ohio from operation (Big Dipper at GL and Screeching Eagle at Americana). But, short of being an amusement park, I'm not sure its a feasible proposition, especially given the economy right now in the Cleveland area.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007 12:57 AM
Jeff's avatar Places like Legacy Village, mentioned in the article, are a really different place in the winter, and I often wonder what they were thinking when they decided to do an outdoor venue like that.
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Tuesday, November 13, 2007 7:49 AM
Jason Hammond's avatar RatherGoodBear, maybe you missed this at the end of the article.

"Cedar Fair is moving ahead with plans to sell the more than 500 acres of park property. Sealed bids are due March 28. Frole said development of the land would be up to the buyer."

The biggest factor, IMO, is going to be wether or not there is anyone interested Big Dipper at IAAPA this year.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007 8:32 AM
You know, that's not a half-bad idea. It's not clear to me how well upscale housing---the other frequent use mentioned---will do across the street from Big Retail.

Unfortunately, it's only useful about 1/3 of the year, but still. Not half bad.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007 9:41 AM
It's not a bad idea at all.

First of all, Carole is a very respected peson. Everyone who knows me knows that I've had some issues with ACE in the past (as an ACE member, no less). Carole is one of the "good ones"- one of the best presidents ACE had and someone with the knowledge and passion to help get an idea off the ground and make it work.

This idea strikes me as a very reasonable compromise. Cedar Fair gets to sell off all of Geauga's land and make a fortune. The community, on the other hand, gets to retain part of its history while keeping new development interesting with an entertainment option. Who cares if the coaster doesn't run all year long? Geauga Lake never operated all year long and that waterpark across the lake isn't going to operate all year long either. I'm sure as long as development includes condo units, a Linens 'n' Things and a Starbucks, people will be perfectly happy.

I don't see why Cedar Fair would be against the coaster remaining in operation. After all, haven't most been preaching that Geauga Lake was never competition for Cedar Point? That being the case, what would be the problem?

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007 10:40 AM
Jason, you're correct, I did miss the end of the article, since page 2 required site registration.

Based on that sentence, CF is not looking to subdivide parcels, but to sell the whole thing lock, stock and barrel. So if this idea were to go through, these investors wouldn't be dealing with CF at all, but rather with the party that buys the land. Hopefully the buyer won't have plans that won't be compatible with a coaster operating next door (like a seniors' village or something like that), and would be willing to sell off the 20 acres they have in mind. The one downer is with the extra transaction, they'll be paying a higher price for the land than if they buy directly from CF now.

Rob, the one negative for CF, if you could even call it that, is that some might wonder why they didn't come up with or consider an idea like that themselves. They've gone on record saying that rides have no feasibility on this site and can't make a profit. They either weren't creative enough in thinking outside the box, thinking of a new way to bring people through the gate (as some on the site are fond of saying), or didn't want to invest the time and effort to do so.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007 10:58 AM
Call me anti-American, but isn't there enough shopping around there? They've got a two phase project across from the park and Aurora Farms Premium Outlet down the road. Granted, the Walmart there has been so successful that it's getting converted to a SuperWalmart with grocery retrofit.

What I find odd is, given the 'Cleveland area economy' who would do all this shopping if they opened another mall in GL's place?

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007 11:11 AM
Didn't you hear? PlayStations just came out in Ohio, so there needs to be stores to support them. ;)
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Tuesday, November 13, 2007 11:14 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar Upscale shopping centers, mixed-use developments, that sort of thing are bad - at least everytime the subject comes up around here.

But now, upscale shopping centers, mixed-use developments, that sort of thing with a coaster in the middle are good.

Gotta love enthusiasts. :)

Isn't this kind of what they wanted (want?) to do with Coney Island (except on a larger scale) that had everybody up in arms?

I'm so confused.

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