10 October 2007

This town ain't big enough for the both of us

In today's press release, Cedar Fair has thrown down the gauntlet. The theme park operator "believes that the traffic, parking and other operational problems that would be created by putting the stadium in the middle of Great America’s main parking area are insurmountable and would place the continued operation of the park at risk."

After making this assessment, Cedar Fair offered to sell the park (remember they don't own the land, they have a lease through 2039) to the city/49ers so that the 49ers could do what they wanted with it. Talk about hardball, read the stance for yourself:

Cedar Fair has analyzed information provided by the 49ers themselves regarding parking, usage dates, project footprint, and traffic flow. While other parties can weigh in on the fiscal and environmental risks that building a new stadium would bring to the residents of Santa Clara, we oppose the stadium as proposed for three basic reasons specific to the interests of Great America’s guests:

1. Unacceptable parking limitations for Great America visitors.
2. Increased congestion for Great America visitors.
3. Irreconcilable limits on Great America improvement plans.

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.

So it's Great America vs. the 49ers. Reading between the lines, it appears Cedar would prefer that Santa Clara citizens choose between the two. If/when an election is held to decide this, it will difficult issue to pass because it will be hard for the Niners to paint it as something other than a black-and-white scenario. Great America is the incumbent and doesn't face an uphill battle.

Should the Niners get to the point of actually acquiring the park, there is a question of what "fair market value" is. It comes down to branding and the value of operations at Great America. Close the park and it becomes a sunk cost. They can liquidate the rides and technology there but that sounds like a pennies-on-the-dollar problem.

You may be thinking, "Whew, I'm glad the A's aren't dealing with this," and you'd be right. It could have been this way, however, if the A's went with the Warm Springs site next to NUMMI. NUMMI felt a similar threat and put up the stop sign immediately. The A's and Cisco are partners. The 49ers and Cedar Fair? Not so much. Then again, maybe the 49ers really want the land so that it can be redeveloped in an effort to help pay for the stadium, whose cost is upwards of $800 million. It would be rather similar to what the A's are trying to do, wouldn't it?