More Problems For Conneaut Lake Park

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 2:24 PM
They're still in the process of selling some lake front property to reduce the debt almost entirely.
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Tuesday, January 30, 2007 2:33 PM
Gonch: Three words: ACE.Gravy.Auction.

When I first heard of this park, they were asking people to volunteer to come paint thier rollercoaster. If they cant even afford regular upkeep, IMO, it's time to move on.

(edited for clairty) *** Edited 1/30/2007 7:33:57 PM UTC by 2Hostyl***

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007 2:37 PM
LOL!

It's a bold and daring move, Jeremy, but drastic times need drastic measures.

ACE Gravy Auction it is! CLP is saved!

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007 3:15 PM
I have a feeling the actual situation with the park falls somewhere between your scenario and mine, Gonch. Who knows? Maybe the park would still be in the hole without the debt. But I'd like to see what the park is capable of doing without that hanging over it's head for a few years before putting the final nail in the coffin.

Something I've questioned elsewhere is the timeliness of these annual "doom and gloom for Conneaut" announcements. It seems that every year the same things are said and it leads to something happening that gets the park reopened every year. It's quite possible that the people running the place are playing the media to their advantage... if they are, I extend my congratulations to them.

If people in the community feel stronly enough about the place to keep it alive, they will find a way. Remember what happened with Arnold's Park a few years ago? The park needed something like $7 million to stay open and the community came through with that money in an amazingly short amount of time. Look at how Valencia jumped when Six Flags was going to sell the park. Parks are not only a source of local pride but they are also employers. Having a park close is bad for the local economy.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007 3:22 PM

Something I've questioned elsewhere is the timeliness of these annual "doom and gloom for Conneaut" announcements. It seems that every year the same things are said and it leads to something happening that gets the park reopened every year. It's quite possible that the people running the place are playing the media to their advantage... if they are, I extend my congratulations to them.

Interesting.

Perhaps I'm not giving enough 'shrewd points' to the good folks at CLP. :)

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007 3:25 PM
I'm not saying that's definitely the case but I'm sure if you spend the time to go back and look at all the news items for CLP, they likely all have the same tone and happen to hit the newswire during the mid-winter months. It's either a sad coincidence or clever planning. Either way, it seems to work- the park opens every year.

*** Edited 1/30/2007 8:26:17 PM UTC by Rob Ascough***

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007 3:37 PM

Rob Ascough said:If people in the community feel stronly enough about the place to keep it alive, they will find a way. Remember what happened with Arnold's Park a few years ago? The park needed something like $7 million to stay open and the community came through with that money in an amazingly short amount of time. Look at how Valencia jumped when Six Flags was going to sell the park. Parks are not only a source of local pride but they are also employers. Having a park close is bad for the local economy.

Something tells me that THAT message was lost on the people of Houston and Tulsa....

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007 6:28 PM
Arnold's is a park that is quite similar to CLP. The biggest difference IMO is that there isn't much in the way of competing parks nearby. Valleyfair! and another small Iowa park (I believe that it is called Wonderland) are about all there are within daytrip range. No Waldameers one county away.

Other parks are a long haul from there. WOF is about 250 miles as is Mt. Olympus in the Dells. The nearest megapark is SFGAM, over 300 miles away in the Chicago area.

Of course, the population density is much greater in areas near CLP which is one of the reasons that so many other parks are able to operate successfully within daytrip distance of CLP.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007 6:51 PM
I highly doubt the folks at CLP are diabolical enough to be that manipulative. The reason these financial warnings tend to come out about the same time is because the off-season is when financial reports on the previous season are made.

The sad thing is, the park was in better shape last year than it's been in a long time. The train was up and running, ditto the Tumblebug. I finally got to ride their Toboggan last year too. I just hate to see them close up when at least some things are going right.

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Friday, February 2, 2007 9:58 AM
I think the Conneaut community is pretty split about the park.

Most of the article comments in the Meadville Trib are mostly negative from the locals. It seems to me that most of them would like to turn the page and start a new chapter for the area.

-Flying(Memphis Kiddie park needs Flyers)Scooter.

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Friday, February 2, 2007 10:19 AM
I question the Meadville Tribune's motives by the tone of many of their articles. I get the feeling that they purposely include the negative stuff and not the positive because they want to see the park gone. I'm not sure that's how the majority of the people in the area feel.
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Friday, February 2, 2007 4:43 PM
Well the couple of times that I went the park was a ghost town. Did everything in the park in under 2 hours with multiple rides.

I would miss it if it was gone. I like the place a lot. It needs work. It needs help. If it is even salvageable.

If it were to close I would like to see the following saved and sent elsewhere....

Blue Streak (Duh!)
Devil's Den
Flying Scooters
Tumble Bug (what a great ride...even though it dont look like it)
Former Erieview darkride

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Friday, February 2, 2007 8:06 PM
Rob-
I wholeheartedly agree with you...CLP is a viable operation. I visit every year, and every year there is improvement. Over the years I have come to make many friends there (especially my "brothers" in the maintenance department) and have a good feel for what goes on there.

What everyone seems to forget is that since all of the ugliness of the early 90's, the park has been in the hole. They didn't start with a clean slate, they started with a deficit. Bad management practices in the succeeding years added to the problems. What's more, there has been no tax forgiveness, no debt forgiveness, no utility forgiveness--nothing to help with the money problems (look at all of the incentives available if you start a new business in a depressed area-like no or reduced taxes?). Add to that the debt service (interest) on somewhere around $2M, and it's tough to get ahead. They were able to pay back the $250K loan they got for startup in 2006. That means they paid for all of the general operating expenses, including labor. The loss comes from all of the unpaid crap from previous years. Of course, when all is said and done, there's no money for marketing or advertising.

Then of course, they're paying the "court appointed custodian" around $50K/year to do very little but spout doom and gloom. (This genius says he won't allow them to borrow money for startup this year. Obvously, he has no knowledge of how a seasonal business operates-especially an amusement park. Many years ago, before fully becoming the "corporate park" that it now is, Hersheypark would borrow as much as $3M every season to start up.) Add to that $52K/year for a general manager who has no clue about running a park, preferring to wash dishes at the hotel's restaurant instead.

No, there's nothing wrong with CLP that cash wouldn't fix. Unfortunately, no one seems interested in the investment. Given a chance, it is the ultimate classic amusement resort. A wooden coaster, carousel, Bug, dark ride, classic flats, a ballroom, and hotel on the premises--all situated on the largest natural lake in Pennsylvania!

And how do you compare CLP with anyplace else? The closest "competition" is Waldameer. Ain't too many people from Conneaut's area gonna drive to Altoona to go to Lakemont or DG. And speaking of Lakemont, their attendance doesn't exactly break records either. I've seen a lot more people at Conneaut than most of the times I've been at Lakemont! In fact, I'm not sure how Lakemont stays in business when there's more staff than guests.

While I was initially disappointed with the idea of the land sale, I came to realize that it is probably the only way CLP will have a chance. It would erase all of the outstanding debt, put a little extra money in the coffers and allow a fresh start (and maybe some advertising).

Time will tell, but I personally am hoping to visit many more times in the coming years. *** Edited 2/3/2007 1:08:38 AM UTC by Comet Rider*** *** Edited 2/3/2007 1:09:51 AM UTC by Comet Rider***

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Saturday, February 3, 2007 12:07 AM
This park is very much worth saving. There are few parks left with such traditional rides, and it would be such a shame to lose another one... I am pulling for it to survive. It is a special place.
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Sunday, February 4, 2007 11:53 AM
I wonder if (if the park reopens in 2007) they will need to borrow money to get started or if they purposly did not repay a portion of that debt to reopen without borrowing additional money.

That hotel still does generate some money for them throughout the year.

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Tuesday, February 6, 2007 2:46 PM
^^^ Well put. People are way too quick to say that Conneaut isn't a viable business but forget about the financial hole that the park was tossed in. It's the same as being sued by someone who slipped on ice in your driveway and then not having enough money to pay your electric bill. You're low on funds but it doesn't mean you're bad with money and finances, it just means you got shafted.

As I keep saying (and people keep ignoring, except for Gonch), if Conneaut were to operate without the debt that's been weighing it down, I think it could be rather successful. The crowds are paying money to be there, and that means something is draining the money from the park. Most parks close because of a lack of patronage, and Conneaut doesn't suffer from a lack of patronage.

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Tuesday, February 6, 2007 3:11 PM
Not JUST Gonch, LOL, I also *completely* understand that the park's situation has been turned upside-down by the debt that weighs them down...

Unfortunately, unless some knight in shining armor comes along to PAY that debt, the interest that accrues *continuously* will continue to drag the park down.

From the sounds of it, the park had a successful '06 season, enough to pay off the loan they took to open for '06 AND pay off the interest on that note....but it's not really making any kind of dent in the LARGER debt that keeps the park from making any REAL headway. It's a business, breaking even is HARDLY a "goal".

Trust me, folks, I'd LOVE for the park to succeed. I want it to, badly. I just don't see where they're ever going to get out of the hole they're in....regardless of how they got there.

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Tuesday, February 6, 2007 3:29 PM
Yeah, I kind of follow Gator logic here.

It doesn't matter if you fall in the hole or you're thrown in - you're still in a hole and you need to get out.

"I'd be able to win the marathon if I weren't stuck in this hole!"

Well, that may be...but right now you're stuck in a hole.

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Tuesday, February 6, 2007 3:34 PM
^great, now you've got me thinking of Alice in Chains Down in a Hole.

Maybe what's left of them should play the park.
I'd go.

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Tuesday, February 6, 2007 3:43 PM
I think they're on tour right now... with a new lead singer, of course. Hopefully this one's not a smackhead.
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