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

Posted Tuesday, October 9, 2007 11:33 PM | 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.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007 10:47 PM
^ I believe around 1.8 mil per year
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Wednesday, October 10, 2007 11:34 PM
1.8 million? That's terrible for that market. They should try ripping out a few signature rides and painting a couple lamp posts to get attendance up . . .
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Wednesday, October 10, 2007 11:46 PM
Looking at it from the team's point of view, a theme park is a waste of money. The stadium entertains people eight to ten times a year, and the theme park entertains the average family two to three times a year. A football teams brings recognition, money, and national exposure. It's hard enough for a theme park to get recognition for something other than a ride fatality/malfunction nowadays.Just trying to be moderate about it.

So from a moderate standpoint, what's more "beneficial"?
*** This post was edited by Hatham Al-Shabibi 10/10/2007 11:53:22 PM ***

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Thursday, October 11, 2007 2:07 AM

Rob Ascough said:
If anything, I'm surprised at how many people on a coaster enthusiast website simply don't care when the closing of amusement parks is announced. Maybe I'm wrong but it seems a lot of people are numb. Not sure why that is, nor do I understand why someone would spend so much time on a site like this when they seem so indifferent to the idea of amusement parks.

Rob, I've thought about your statement for a while today, and I've really tried to think of a good reply. Except for the few people who think a petition will do any good, the rest of us are becoming all too aware that nothing is safe, and we really don't have any control over these business decisions.

Maybe the trip to the amusement park isn't as fun as it used to be either. When you know you're going to a park and leaving with a much lighter wallet, so to speak, I think people are looking for other cheaper options of entertainment.

You can get angry or passionate all you want but it won't bring back Astroworld, Mrytle Beach Pavillion, Wild West World, Geauga Lake, Coney Island etc. (just to name a few). And I don't think it's that people don't care, it's just that except for a few pockets of America, there are still plenty of amusement parks with plenty of rides in them to go to.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007 10:37 AM
I think the point behind that statement has been lost. It had nothing to do with any of the things impacting the amusement industry like decreased interest, escalating operating costs and record real estate values. It was merely an observation of what seems to be indifference.

It's obvious we all approach coaster enthusiasm from different place. Some of us like the nostalgia, others like the business aspect. Regardless, I always assumed everyone on this site was here because there is a common appreciation for amusement parks. That being the case, it's strange when an amusement park closes- or is rumored to be closing- and some people seem absolutely indifferent or, in some cases, outright thrilled. I'm not picking on anyone or saying it's wrong to express opinions, I'm just observing and thinking aloud.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007 11:57 AM
Probably because it doesn't matter in the bigger context of our lives. I can only trouble myself with so many things. Closing amusement parks isn't one of them.
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Thursday, October 11, 2007 12:10 PM
Yes, my take as well.

In the big scheme of things, amusement park loss isn't high on my list.

Do I dig the parks? Sure.
Does it suck when one closes? Usually.
Are there still hundreds of parks in the US alone to visit? Yup.
Is it going to change my life in any way? In most cases not one bit.
Can I do anything about it beyond useless b*tching and moaning? Nope.
Do I feel it's my place to do anything? Nope.

That pretty much adds up to my usual "Oh well" response. :)

Even more appalling? In some perverse way it's kind of neat knowing I've been to a park or on a ride that will no longer exist.

Flat out, I don't care enough about any ride or park that I can think of to be angry or upset at it's removal or loss. The only instance where I might be affected is if it's a local park that I visit frequently...and even then we move enough that it wouldn't affect me beyond a season...maybe two.

Remember my hooker/stripper analogies in that other thread. It really applies for me. I pay for a good time not a relationship. If that good time goes away, I'll just pay someone else. There's no strings attached.

I say it's entirely possible (even reasonable) to enjoy parks, be a fan of parks and even come here to endlessly discuss parks, but not be so attached that I get angry or upset when one closes.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007 12:18 PM
I guess it's just a matter of what moves each individual. Like I said, it wasn't an attack on anyone's personal opinions or anything like that, I just can't understand why someone would spend a lot of time on a coaster enthusiast site and then act completely indifferent about a park closing. I know I'm pretty powerless when it comes to reversing that kind of decision but I still think to myself that it's too bad that I won't get to enjoy that park again and other people will be in the same boat. That doesn't require amusement parks being high or low on my list of priorities.

Different strokes, apparantly.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007 12:20 PM
Gonch - your analogy just made my day. Thanks for the laugh.
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Thursday, October 11, 2007 12:30 PM
Posted by Ensign Smith (not sure why my screen name isn't posting):

Rob, I've expressed your sentiments on here before. I can understand why folks who don't frequent amusement parks are indifferent to their fate. But I thought we, at least, were supposed to appreciate the importance and specialness of these places.

It seems like there is a lot of short-sighted parochialism among enthusiasts. If it's not happening to the two or three parks I visit, it's not important. I guess this is natural and human, but when it reaches the level where people are actually gloating about the rides that a park like MiA or KD is going to receive at the fatal expense of a park like GL, that's where it becomes nonsensical to me.

I especially dislike when an administrator for one of the foremost amusement park enthusiast web sites can only produce an indifferent response about a park closing when questioned by members of the media. There, I said it. Somebody in that position ought to have a better understanding about their responsibility. Such a personage is regarded by the media as representative of all enthusiasts, and as such he or she speaks for all of us. It doesn't matter if the park in question was complete crap. It's still an amusement park, and still deserves affection and support from the enthusiast community. And most especially by people in leadership positions.

I know that the demographics among coaster fans tend to skew toward teens and young adults, and that may play a factor in this phenomenon. I imagine there's a dearth of awareness about the history of amusement parks, or how many parks there once were.

Here where I live, in Cuyahoga Falls, once upon a time we had our own park (Glens), while neighboring Akron had five parks all to itself. In Ohio there were over 80 parks, not so very long ago. I think that without an appreciation of the past, it's more difficult to understand where the industry is going in the future. It's easier to write off the loss of an Erieview or a Conneaut Lake or an Astroland when you don't understand the long view: that these landmark treasure are disappearing, one by one.

When someone here mentioned the disappearance of the family owned amusement park, and somebody else responded that Koch down in Holiday World would be surprised to hear that, there wasn't a whole lot of correction by posters that I noticed. But the truth of the matter is that for every Holiday World or Beech Bend, there are probably 5 or 8 or 10 Bushkills or Lesourdsville Lakes. (That ratio is probably actually declining of late, mostly because most of the damage has been done already, and there simply aren't that many of that kind of parks left to close.) Despite the boom period from about 1960 to 1985 of large theme parks and large theme park companies, the greater trend from the Depression to the present has been the retrenchment and loss of these small, traditional, independently owned parks. That is the battle facing enthusiasts today, and they can't fight it -- or at least speak up about it -- if they don't understand the nature of that battle.

So what I would like to see is more enthusiasts taking an interest in parks far from their home base. I'd like to see folks begin to understand that amusement parks are not a zero sum game. If one park loses, to a degree, all parks lose. And it would be good to see more people aware of the storied and glittering past of these places, to understand that their remnants today are just that -- remnants, that need to be nurtured and preserved.

*Packs away soap box*
*** This post was edited by 10/11/2007 12:33:54 PM ***

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Thursday, October 11, 2007 12:31 PM
Just my take. You'd get a completely different response from those in the closing park's region. It's easy to be indifferent when it doesn't directly affect you or you've never particularly liked the park to begin with.

As long as Cedar Point opens next year, all is right with the world. ;)

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Thursday, October 11, 2007 12:50 PM
Seeing that the city owns the land, they could always pull a Meigs Field on it if they really want the 49'ers. Doubtful though. Chicago has a style all its own.
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Thursday, October 11, 2007 12:55 PM

Ensign Smith:
But I thought we, at least, were supposed to appreciate the importance and specialness of these places.

I apparently missed that memo.


If it's not happening to the two or three parks I visit, it's not important. I guess this is natural and human...

Guilty (except change "two or three" to "nineteen or twenty" - each year...for the past 7 years). And even when it happens in my backyard, I'd have less of a reaction than some have when a park they've never been to in a different part of the world closes.


I especially dislike when an administrator for one of the foremost amusement park enthusiast web sites can only produce an indifferent response about a park closing when questioned by members of the media. There, I said it. Somebody in that position ought to have a better understanding about their responsibility. Such a personage is regarded by the media as representative of all enthusiasts, and as such he or she speaks for all of us. It doesn't matter if the park in question was complete crap. It's still an amusement park, and still deserves affection and support from the enthusiast community. And most especially by people in leadership positions.

I'm not even going to touch that except to say I couldn't disagree more. I don't think people in those types of positions have any responsibility to anyone but themselves. Don't media whore just because it's "the right thing to do" and certainly don't act as if you have some cross to bear for the entire community. Blech!


I know that the demographics among coaster fans tend to skew toward teens and young adults, and that may play a factor in this phenomenon.

I'm in my mid-30's.


I imagine there's a dearth of awareness about the history of amusement parks, or how many parks there once were.

Nope, I'm pretty familiar with the way things used to be. More importantly, I know how they are now.


I think that without an appreciation of the past, it's more difficult to understand where the industry is going in the future.

I actually agree. Which leads too:


Despite the boom period from about 1960 to 1985 of large theme parks and large theme park companies, the greater trend from the Depression to the present has been the retrenchment and loss of these small, traditional, independently owned parks.

Yup. It's been going on forever and it will continue to happen. I understand that in the big scheme of things amusement parks don't seem to matter to people in general as much as they do to enthusiasts in particular. I must be more 'people in general' than 'enthusiast in particular' - go figure.


And it would be good to see more people aware of the storied and glittering past of these places, to understand that their remnants today are just that -- remnants, that need to be nurtured and preserved.

So because I like to ride coasters with my kids, I also have to be a historian and/or preservationist on the subject? No thanks. Where do I turn in my credentials?


*Packs away soap box*

*Quits yelling from the crowd*

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Thursday, October 11, 2007 1:01 PM
Damn hecklers . . . ;)
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Thursday, October 11, 2007 1:03 PM
:)
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Thursday, October 11, 2007 1:09 PM
I can appreciate the mourning (wailing, gnashing of teeth, etc.) when a ride/park of historical importance is lost. Shoot, I even participate, and have signed a petition or two (knowing full well that its unlikely to change anything).

By the same token, I can appreciate that any publicly-traded company has a duty first and foremost to its shareholders.

What can I really DO that might help more when it comes to keeping rides around and parks operating? Probably just going to parks and spending money there...

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Thursday, October 11, 2007 1:25 PM
Folks, don't play the dirges yet!

This is all a matter of negotiation, Cedar Fair style. Anybody remember how they got the Cincinnati transit company to continue the Kings Island route *without* a subsidy from the park?

What Cedar Fair is saying here is that the park and the stadium cannot co-exist. They are offering to end their long-term lease on the property for a boatload of cash, *provided that* (a) they receive fair market value for their real property, and (b) the City of Santa Clara decides that they would prefer to have the stadium on that site instead of Great America. It isn't that Cedar Fair wants to close the park. In fact, I'd suggest that they are *counting on* that earlier deed restriction and the city's stated desire to have Great America. It means that if the stadium gets built on that site, Great America is history, but the bad guy is not Cedar Fair, but rather the 49ers, and worse yet, the City of Santa Clara reneging on their previous deal. Furthermore, we can get a better idea of what Cedar Fair is really thinking if someone starts throwing numbers around. If their real preference is to operate the park, then the "fair market value" of Great America could end up being very substantial!

This is Cedar Fair playing hardball again. It will be interesting to see how far it goes before the 49ers decide to go somewhere else.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007 2:39 PM
I can appreciate where you took this conversation ES, and I certainly respect it. That said, you went even deeper than I was planning on going with it. I wasn't going to bring "obligation as an enthusiast" into the conversation because there really isn't an obligation- people are welcome to feel as little or as much as they want. My simple question was, how can someone have a passing interest in a hobby and claim not to care about something that negatively impacts the hobby? I'm not suggesting someone break out the tissues and cry all night, just something a little bit more than apathy.
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Thursday, October 11, 2007 2:43 PM
Good points, Dave. Sometimes we get wrapped up in the failures and forget the success. Let's not forget about the abolition of the silly Sandusky parking tax as well.

Ensign Smith sayeth:
I especially dislike when an administrator for one of the foremost amusement park enthusiast web sites can only produce an indifferent response about a park closing when questioned by members of the media. There, I said it. Somebody in that position ought to have a better understanding about their responsibility. Such a personage is regarded by the media as representative of all enthusiasts, and as such he or she speaks for all of us. It doesn't matter if the park in question was complete crap. It's still an amusement park, and still deserves affection and support from the enthusiast community. And most especially by people in leadership positions.
If you're going to call me out, you could at least do so by name. There's a lot of irony that you fill your posts with sarcasm that implies how full of crap I am, yet suggest I'm some kind of leader.

Gonch said exactly what I said previously, that I'm not going to be an attention whore and get in front of a camera just so a few curious viewers can see what that CoasterBuzz is all about.

My only responsibility is to myself first, and the news consuming audience of this site second, with preference given to the people who pay for a membership. That's it. I do not speak for the enthusiast community, nor do I have any desire to. As a journalist, I look at the stories out in the industry and post those that I find to be newsworthy. That's my job.

When the LA Times, USA Today or NPR call, I'll give them my observations and opinions, usually in the context of the industry as a business. I get asked what my favorite ride is all of the time, and I never give an answer. After nearly eight years of doing this, that's what I choose to do.

You talk about "damage" done to small family owned parks. Which of these parks are opened as charities with limitless funding? They all open as businesses, and that's just the way it is. Some people, like the Koch's, are really good at it. Kent Buescher is another example of a strong business leader. The Herschends have gone from small players to some of the smartest people in the business. The bottom line is that this industry is like any other. It has winners and losers.

A lot of what you and Rob say is predicated on the notion that enthusiasts have some duty or obligation to care about everything. If that's what you want to do, more power to you, but I'm not interested. Don't get me wrong, I can certainly relate. My ex-girlfriend's family is selling a wonderful historic cottage on Mackinac that will likely get bulldozed within hours of the sale, and if I could do something to prevent that, I would.

But my enthusiasm is very much like Gonch's hooker analogy. Even my beloved Cedar Point, which I've grown up with, I have to be careful about believing it loves me back, especially while it's ripping me off for mediocre food.

The bottom line is, you have no place deciding what role me and my site are supposed to play in the world. This too, is a business, and if you don't like the way it's run, you're free to take that business elsewhere.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007 2:58 PM
A lot of what you and Rob say is predicated on the notion that enthusiasts have some duty or obligation to care about everything.

Wrong. I specifically said I didn't feel that to be the case- numerous times. All I was doing was wondering why there seems to be a lot of apathy attached to this hobby. It was a discussion point and not an attack so don't treat it as an attack.

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