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49ers

SF Group To Buy Great America Amusement Park; 49ers Stadium Plan To Benefit

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California's Great America

California’s Great America

PhilMatier01-370 Phil Matier
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SANTA CLARA (KCBS) – The owners of the Great America theme park announced Monday that the park is being sold for $70 million to a San Francisco real estate firm in a deal that will resolve a lawsuit filed two years ago by the park’s operators against the city of Santa Clara.

The York family, who own the San Francisco 49ers, is contributing to the purchase, but just how much they are investing has yet to be disclosed, according to Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews.

The 49ers released a statement confirming the partnership with JMA.

“We are excited about this new opportunity and partnership with JMA,” the team said in a statement. “We believe this venture will enhance both Great America Park and the Santa Clara Stadium project.”

KCBS’ Matt Bigler Reports:

Matthews called the deal a “win” for all parties involved.

He said the deal would move the stadium project forward, create additional development opportunities for the theme park, and facilitate a proposal by football Hall of Famer Joe Montana and his partner Eddie DeBartolo to create a luxury hotel on two parcels of city-owned land.

“This is an exciting development, because it resolves a lot of issues with ownership and parking and creates unbelievable synergy in our cultural convention center with this new stadium and family theme park,” Matthews said.

Two years ago, Cedar Fair, the Ohio-based company that owns Great America, opposed a measure to build the $987 million, 68,500-seat stadium and filed a lawsuit against Santa Clara over parking and other issues related to the construction of the stadium next to the theme park. The city owns the land the park sits on and has been leasing it to Cedar Fair for $5.3 million annually since 2006.

According to a statement by Cedar Fair, the company would use the proceeds from the sale to reduce its senior secured debt.

Dick Kinzel, Cedar Fair’s chief executive officer, said the decision to sell the park was not an easy one.

“This is a quality park that has terrific employees and serves a strong market,” Kinzel said in a statement. “That being said, as part of our regular comprehensive review of our portfolio of parks, we determined that divesting a smaller park like California’s Great America at an attractive market value created a compelling business opportunity that we couldn’t pass up.”

Matthews said the deal must be approved by the City Council in the next 45 to 60 days, after which JMA could begin operating the park.

KCBS Insider Phil Matier said the move is not a big surprise.

“It’s one of the big pieces in that puzzle down there. Santa Clara said that we want the 49ers, but we also want Great America,” Matier said. “Great America felt left out of the deal. There were a lot of legal threats going back and forth, especially over parking lots and who would have rights to them. This way, the 49ers can take over the whole show.”

KCBS and Chronicle Insider Phil Matier:

JMA Ventures already owns a number of Bay Area properties including the Fairmont Heritage Plaza at Ghirardelli Square and Waterbar and EPIC Roasthouse restaurants on the Embarcadero in San Francisco.

You can hear Phil Matier’s comments Monday through Friday at 7:50am and 5:50pm on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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