UPDATED: Cedar Fair opposes new 49ers stadium, team would consider buying park

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

With the owner of the Great America theme park continuing to raise concerns about plans for a San Francisco 49ers stadium next door, team officials Tuesday said they would consider buying the Santa Clara attraction to move the deal ahead. A spokesman for the park's owner, Cedar Fair, said late Tuesday that the company would release a statement today explaining its opposition to the $854 million stadium proposal. Because of the terms of its lease with the city, if Cedar Fair refuses to sign off on a stadium, the proposal ultimately could be scuttled.

Read more from The Mercury News and The San Francisco Chronicle.

Read Cedar Fair's response in their press release.

Jeff's avatar
First off, the articles imply a lot of things with virtually no evidence. A slight dip in attendance and revenue makes not an unsuccessful business. One park could be up, another down. Regardless, look at the results. They aren't losing money.

Second, it's pretty arrogant for the team to just say, "We'll buy it." It has to be sale first.

If the property was most recently assessed at $114 million, then I suspect its actual value is still higher, as assessments seem to never quite be true to actual market value (my house is assessed 25% lower than what I could actually sell it for). If you're Cedar Fair and that figure is being dangled in your face, you have to do the math. All of the following have to be true:

1) The selling price has to be greater than the cost paid for it, plus the expenses related to that purchase and any cap ex since.

2) The short term shot of cash is greater than the profit from the park over some term. If they really can reach their goal of paying down the Paramount financing by 2012-ish (I don't know that they've ever publicly said that, but it has always been my understanding that was the goal), then take that six years of profit and make that your price.

3) They're OK with the fact that they won't have the revenue following the term mentioned in 2) after that term.

Regardless of what happens, is this really an issue for something that will be used eight times a year in the off-season?

beast7369's avatar
I can definitely understand Cedar Fair's opposition to the new stadium on what is now the parking they use for Great America. But what if in conjunction of building the stadium the city built some parking garages? Could that then make it so the park could actually have more expansion space? And if the look of the space is what bothers them why not do it like they do it in Chicago and build an underground parking garage?

Now I am not saying that they should build the stadium there but there is potential for both to coexist happily.

Mamoosh's avatar
...why not do it like they do it in Chicago and build an underground parking garage?

The park is built on what used to be the southern part of the San Francisco bay, which over the last few decades has been filled in from the sides to create more land. IIRC they can't dig down all that deep because the water table is pretty high.

I thought I remembered that was some kind of security clause for Great America in the deed to the property. It was put there around the time that Marriott sold the park and no amusement operator expressed interest and the city of Santa Clara bought it and operated it through 1984-1985 until they made the deal with KECO to take over the park in 1986. At that time they were already looking at the landlock situation and in order to keep office buildings from overunning the park, there was a condition put on the property by the city that it must remain amusement park, and it had a 99-year term to it, regardless of who the owner might be. Two years ago when AstroWorld was closed and everyone was looking at what other dense real-estate-in-demand areas it might happen again, lots of people pointed to PGA and that clause was mentioned. Hopefully it'sreally there and would hang over any deal Cedar Fair or the49ers might pursue.
Just think if all amusement parks were to use parking garages and all the expansion it would mean.
Cedar Point wouldn't be running out of room then!
...And the parking lots under magnum would be sinking!
Is it just me or is spending $854 million for something that is used 8 times a year completely ridiculous?
There are other uses for stadiums of this nature. Soldier Field in Chicago also has city league championships and concerts (and it used to be the home of the MLS Fire as well). Additionally, you have to consider housing that many people in one area to the cost.
Jeff's avatar
That's what I said here in Cleveland when they built ours. Even if it was partially funded with a "sin tax," that money would've been put to better use for schools or something.
But also realize the new stadium could be the site of a future Super Bowl, for what economical value that could also bring...

What I think is funny is how someone is quoted in the San Jose Mercury News as saying the 49'ers already are getting public money from taxes, yet have money to buy an amusement park!?

That was always like in high school my sister coming home from the mall with tons of new clothes, and then asking my parents for money for her cell phone bill!

janfrederick's avatar
Yah know....I smell Astroland parking problems. I say move the team to vegas and rename them the 69ers. ;)
This has been talked about in the news out here (silicon valley) for a while. Though I agree there will be parking issues, I think its a great idea. To be honest this area needs more parking even without the stadium. The Santa Clara convention center sits right across from Great America, so the city would be justified in building more parking.

This would also put niner's stadium right next to their practice center and team headquarters. Plus, it would bring another professional team to silicon valley. (We only have the Sharks right now.)

I don't see Cedar Fair as the catalyst that would stop the new stadium. San Francisco is still pushing really hard for the Niners to build the new stadium at Hunter's point.

HeyIsntThatRob?'s avatar
"That's what I said here in Cleveland when they built ours"

But Jeff! If you build it they will come! We've seen Jacob's Field, RnR HoF, Science Center, and Cleveland Browns stadium, now looking at Cleveland's population booming--- wait. You mean they now have the same population that of Kansas City? It's still dropping? You mean raising taxes on things that they want people to stop doing (i.e. smoking) was a good idea? So when everyone stops smoking where's this money going to come from?

Building Browns stadium without a dome was an absolutely terrible idea. We'll never ever host a Super Bowl, nor will we host anything else other than the 10 home football games until that changes.

This situation though wreaks of Astroworld!

~Rob Willi

I think Cedar Fair is in a great position here. They have the football team by their proverbial balls. Either way, they are sitting on top of a valuable piece of real estate, and profitable or not, they may well unload it if the price is right. ......naah, that doesn't sound like something they would do......
Okay, so we should all plan our fairwell trip to Great America next year...or is it already too late?
The park closes for the season on the 28th of October, there's still enough time to say goodbye.
From Cedar Fair's press release on the matter:

"When Cedar Fair concluded that an amusement park and the stadium as proposed could not successfully coexist, Cedar Fair offered the City and the 49ers the option of redeveloping the entire parcel. The next step will be for the citizens and the City of Santa Clara to decide: should the Great America site be used for a new 49ers’ stadium or should the park continue to operate? If the City and its citizens believe that the best use of this property is for a new stadium, then Cedar Fair is willing to consider selling the remainder of its lease and all of its interest and assets to the City or 49ers for fair market value."

Meaning Cedar Fair says "Make an offer, make an offer!!!!"

The whole release seems to be written to subtly get that point across.



And here I thought my trip to Cali last summer was to say goodbye to SFMM. Fortunately I went to NorCal as well, and I'm glad I got to visit PGA even though it paled in comparison to the other bay area parks.

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