Written by Robert Niles
Published: November 22, 2005 at 4:24 PM
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.