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Snyder Claims to Have Control of Six Flags

The owner of Washington D.C.'s NFL franchise says that he's got majority control of the company and will replace the amusement chain's CEO.

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Published: November 22, 2005 at 4:24 PM

Washington D.C. National Football League owner Dan Snyder is claiming victory in his fight to take over the Six Flags amusement park chain.

According to a press release from his Red Zone holdings company, Snyder has written consents from stockholders owning 57 percent of the company's shares agreeing to oust three directors of Six Flags, including CEO Kieran Burke. If certified, the manuever would install former ESPN programming executive Mark Shapiro as Six Flags' new CEO.

"With the holders of more than 57% of the outstanding common stock consenting to our proposals, stockholders have sent a clear message that it is time for change at Six Flags," Snyder said in a written statement.

Six Flags was formerly known as Premier Parks, a regional amusement chain based in Oklahoma City. When Time Warner sold the assets of its Six Flags parks to Premier in the late 1990s, Premier Parks took the corporate name of the more famous chain and added the "Six Flags" brand to its regional parks.

The company took on substantial debt to finance the purchase of the Six Flags chain, to purchase additional parks (such as New Orleans' Jazzland) and to upgrade facilities and attractions at many of its original regional parks. But a recession in the early 2000s, coupled with a slowdown in tourism following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, left the company in a cash crunch. Theme Park Insider broke the story in June 2002 that Six Flags would not have the money to continue adding and upgrading attractions due to its heavy debt burden.

The lack of new attractions, coupled with an inability to reach beyond a core audience of teen and twentysomethnig thrillseekers, led attendance and revenues to stagnate across the chain, depressing Six Flags' stock price. Prominent shareholders, such as Bill Gates, complained, and earlier this year, Snyder launched his takeover bid for the company.

More coverage:

  • Redskins owner takes over Six Flags -- The Oklahoman
  • Red Zone's Consent Solicitation is Successful -- Press release from RedZone LLC

  • Readers' Opinions

    From Anthony Murphy on November 29, 2005 at 7:16 AM
    What do you think he will change in Six Flags? Being from Chicago, we have Six Flags Great America, which, on this site, seems to be doing pretty well on its own.
    From Robert Niles on November 29, 2005 at 2:49 PM
    He's a young guy -- early 30s, with a strong bent toward entertainment. At ESPN, he diversified the programming with TV-movies, fictional series and talk/comedy shows. (And took a lot of heat for that from sports fans, as well as from the NFL.)

    By all reports, he's a smart guy who plays to win the casual consumer, rather than just serving the hard-core fan.

    How that applies to Six Flags, who knows? But it seems clear to me that if Six Flags wants to extend its market (and that seems to be Shapiro's forte), then the chain needs to move beyond extreme coasters into other forms of themed entertainment. Ultimately, money's gonna dictate what can be done, and Six Flags' capital problems aren't going away so long as it remains a public company.

    From Derek Potter on November 29, 2005 at 6:59 PM
    news...Snyder and his boys are now on the board. God help Six Flags now. I thought that the company was taking a bit of a turn for the better until this. Any remote thoughts I had about purchasing a few units of stock are gone now.

    A lot of Snyder's ideas, the ones he claim to be original, are already being practiced by Six Flags and most other major park chains. The memos and statements I've read indicate this if nothing else...the guy knows next to nothing about the business. There are no new innovative ideas here, just plans to "streamline" the business, and make it even more like the McDonalds of the industry than it already is.

    People give credit to Snyder for his successful NFL franchise, but I ask what's so successful about it? Yeah the franchise generate some profits, but they have (or have had) the highest payroll in the league, with absolutely zero success on the football field..no playoffs, no championships, just a string of subpar teams and disappointed fans. When one thinks about that in terms of the theme park business, it rings pretty true with the current company at stake. Can Snyder make a little money with Six Flags?? Maybe. Can he make it a great franchise again?? No.


    From Ryan Jones on December 16, 2005 at 10:14 PM
    Looks like Shaprio is definitely in, and looking to make some changes. I hope the link to this article works:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/14/AR2005121402367_pf.html

    The article also reveals Gates reason for buying up stock.

    Robert's comments hold true, but my question is: why fool with the niche of the "giant roller coasters Six Flags built its brand on"? They're no Disney, but they realize that and run with it.

    From John Roof on December 26, 2005 at 5:04 AM
    What do you think will happen to the Houston Park. Will the rides be sold.

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