Cedar Fair has announced that it has sold the land on which California’s Great America sits and will lease it back for at least 11 years before the park closes for good.
The $310 million deal with real estate developer Prologis is “part of an eventual wind-down of the park,” according to a Cedar Fair press release. The announcement specifically said that Cedar Fair “will continue to operate the park for a period of up to 11 years and then will close existing park operations at the end of the lease term.”
Cedar Fair President and CEO Richard Zimmerman said, “For our investors, the sale and lease agreements allow us to monetize a high-value asset in the heart of Silicon Valley at a very attractive multiple. The transaction also provides us with a substantial sum of incremental capital which we intend to use to further advance our strategic priorities and generate enhanced returns for our unitholders.”
The exact terms of the sale filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reveal a possibility that the park could close even sooner. Cedar Fair is leasing the park for an initial six-year term and has an option to renew for an additional five years. Prologis has the right to terminate the lease early by providing two years’ prior notice.
The sale marks not only a rare downsizing of the Cedar Fair chain, but puts an expiration date on the Santa Clara, California, attraction that has been around since 1976.
First opened by Marriott (months before its sister park in Illinois now known as Six Flags Great America) the park was sold to the city of Santa Clara in 1985, the Kings Entertainment Company in 1989, Paramount in 1992, and finally Cedar Fair in 2006. Cedar Fair bought the land from the city in March 2019.
The closure would effectively cede the Bay Area theme park market to rival Six Flags, which owns Discovery Kingdom roughly 67 miles away in Vallejo.
Given the long timeline before the park’s demise, Cedar Fair has not detailed what will become of the park’s attractions. The last time Cedar Fair closed a theme park was Ohio’s Geauga Lake in 2007, and several of its roller coasters were subsequently moved to other parks in the chain.
Correction: The original version of this article was inaccurately headlined “California’s Great America to close in 11 years.” The exact terms of the deal, which were not revealed in the initial Cedar Fair press release, show that the 11-year mark is the latest the park could close, with earlier closures possible. The article and headline have been changed to reflect these lease terms. Theme Park Tribune regrets the error.