Thursday, March 11, 2004

Cedar Point buying Six Flags park for $145M

The Associated Press

SANDUSKY, Ohio - The owners of Cedar Point amusement park have struck a deal to buy Six Flags Worlds of Adventure near Cleveland for $145 million.

Sandusky-based Cedar Fair LP said Wednesday that it would buy the combined thrill-ride and animal park along with an adjacent hotel and campground. Six Flags will retain ownership of all animals at the park in Aurora.

Oklahoma City-based Six Flags Inc. also said it would sell seven of its eight European parks for $200 million to a private investment firm. Six Flags chairman Kieran Burke said it will allow the company to focus on North American operations.

Cedar Fair said the Six Flags park in northeast Ohio will be renamed Geauga Lake beginning with the upcoming season. That was the name of the park when Six Flags bought it in 1995. Six years later, it bought the neighboring SeaWorld of Ohio for $110 million and combined the two parks into one.

Six Flags thought it could compete with the more established Cedar Point park in Sandusky by creating a large entertainment destination about 20 miles southeast of Cleveland.

The amusement park operator spent $40 million adding four roller coasters and other attractions for the 2000 season.

The park now has 10 roller coasters, children's areas, a water park and live shows. It draws about 1.5 million guests each year.

But the company hasn't been happy with attendance or profits at the park.

Six Flags Inc. this month reported a fall in attendance for the second straight year at its 39 theme parks. The company blamed poor weather and a soft economy.

It also slashed the amount it will spend on new rides and attractions this year.

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