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Cedar Fair cancels sale of California's Great America theme park

California's Great America aerial image

In a surprise U-turn, Cedar Fair has announced that the sale of California's Great America to real estate investment group JMA Ventures will not now go ahead.

The $70 million sale of California's Great America was announced in September, with Cedar Fair stating at the time that it would "provide the opportunity to immediately de-lever our balance sheet resulting in additional financial flexibility for growth". However, JMA Ventures has now pulled out of the deal, with Cedar Fair proclaiming that it will retain "long-term ownership" of the park.

Cedar Fair's President Matt Ouimet said of the deal's collapse: "We respect JMA’s decision and are pleased to return to the long-term ownership of this exceptional property. As we stated at the time the agreement was made, this is a quality park that has terrific employees and serves a strong market. We look forward to continuing to take advantage of the synergies which are uniquely available to us as a result of operating this park as part of our larger portfolio of properties.”

The company has reached a long-term agreement with the owners of the San Francisco 49ers football team to enable construction of a new stadium and parking lot. A dispute over the stadium plans had rumbled on for a number of years.

Describing the agreement, Ouimet said: "This arrangement leads the way to a mutually beneficial relationship between Cedar Fair, the 49ers and the City of Santa Clara. California’s Great America was a strong performer in 2011 and we are confident this will continue into the future as we build the park’s customer base through new marketing initiatives and capital investments.”

California's Great America was originally opened in 1976 by hotel operator Marriott Corp., and was known as Marriott's Great America. The chain also operated another Great America near Chicago, which was taken over by Six Flags in 1985 and became Six Flags Great America.

The California park subsequently changed hands a number of times, being acquired by Cedar Fair when it took over the former Paramount Parks properties in May 2006.


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