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Great America confirms willingness to sell theme park to 49ers

San Jose Mercury News

Original Article »

October 10, 2007

SAN JOSE, Calif.—The owners of the Great America theme park in Santa Clara confirmed Wednesday they're willing to sell the site to the San Francisco 49ers instead of waging a bitter fight over parking for the football team's proposed stadium.

Cedar Fair Entertainment Co., the Sandusky, Ohio-based owner and operator of Great America and more than a dozen other amusement and water parks, said it offered to sell the park to the 49ers after deciding that traffic congestion and parking headaches from the new arena would severely harm Great America's business and threaten its ability to stay open.

The company, which is suffering from an overall attendance decline at its parks so far this year, said the "operational problems that would be created by putting the stadium in the middle of Great America's main parking area are insurmountable and would place the continued operation of the park at risk."

The 49ers don't have enough parking for their proposed $854 million stadium on 20 acres next to the Great America site. The team has been negotiating with Cedar Fair to use some parking spaces surrounding Great America, but the talks have been rocky.

The announcement by Cedar Fair was not a surprise. The 49ers went public Tuesday night with word that Cedar Fair had approached the team with an offer to sell Great America, and that the 49ers would entertain the idea as a way to secure more parking for the stadium.

Team spokeswoman Lisa Lang disputed the argument that Great America and a new stadium would clash. She said the team plans to keep the park open if it buys the park.

She added, however, that the 49ers will first try to work out alternate ways to get more parking short of buying Great America.

Cedar Fair's announcement "just confirmed what their real business strategy is for Great America, which is to engage in the sale of it," Lang said. "It's good to have that out on the table so we can start to work on a real solution."

The stadium plans come as the 49ers have abandoned their decade-long attempt to build a new stadium on Candlestick Point, the team's San Francisco home since 1971.

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