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Pacific Park goes on the block

Santa Monica Daily Press

Original Article »

March 07, 2008

The owners of Pacific Park on Thursday announced plans to sell the two-acre amusement park and its iconic Ferris Wheel for an undisclosed price.

“(Selling) has always been the long-term plan for the investors who funded the original construction of the park and Santa Monica Police Department substation,” said Mary Ann Powell, chief executive officer and general manager of Pacific Park, which opened in 1996.

“The Park has experienced steady revenue growth over the last five years and has maintained a stellar safety record since opening,” Powell added. “This is an optimal time to seek out potential buyers.”

According to Pacific Park’s Web site, www.pacpark.com, it is the only amusement park on the West Coast to be located on a pier. It’s solar-powered Ferris Wheel, the first in the nation, has become a familiar sight, being featured in commercials, movies and television shows. The park also boasts a steel roller coaster that rises 55 feet above the ocean.

Pacific Park’s investment group has been together for more than 11 years and has actively weighed options and opportunities to enhance Pacific Park’s profile in the market and maximize entertainment value with a commitment to family, fun and community, Powell said.

Pacific Park is currently investing over $1.5 million in an all-new Ferris Wheel and has re-invested over $10 million in capital improvements since opening day.

The investors are committed to supporting Pacific Park’s management with the intention to sell to someone who will continue running the park in the same manner as it is today. They have also been supportive of management and its active involvement in the community and support of charities and non-profits, Powell said.

The current investors are not park operators and entered into the investment with the expectation of selling the business when appropriate. The investors have always made their intentions clear to management, Powell said.

Pacific Park’s management and its investors remain dedicated to the venture and the community and recognize the Santa Monica Pier as a city treasure and share in the community pride and affection for the historic landmark, Powell said.

Misti Kerns, president and CEO of the Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau, hopes that whomever buys the park will continue to operate it in the same manner as it is today and possibly expand it to include more attractions for visitors.

“People definitely like it,” Kerns said. “It offers a very different amusement park type of experience. You aren’t waiting in line for 45 minutes to ride anything. They certainly round out the pier experience.”

Miriam Mack, director of economic development for City Hall, said she will be monitoring the sale to ensure that the owners do business with someone that will “maintain the high level of quality in the operation.”

“Pacific Park is huge,” Mack said. “Their role and what they’ve done for the pier is huge. They’ve created an icon, a wonderful attraction for people to visit. It is highly visible with a beautiful Ferris Wheel that just blazes in the night sky. It’s wonderful.”

Ben Franz-Knight, executive director of the Pier Restoration Corp., which oversees operations at the pier, said the announcement, “speaks to the strength of the pier as a venue and the tremendous success of Pacific Park.”

“Obviously Pacific Park does an outstanding job and we would expect the operation would continue at the same or at heightened levels,” Franz-Knight said.



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