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Six Flags completes sale of Darien Lake amusement park The new owner plans 'local vendor relationships

Six Flags Inc. has completed its sale of Darien Lake amusement park and six other properties around the country for $312 million, ushering in new management at the Genesee County park, the buyers in the deal announced Monday.

PARC Management, the new operator, will refocus the park on the local market, president Randal H. Drew said.

That marks a departure from the national branding strategy pursued by New York City-based Six Flags.

"We are returning to local brands, local vendor relationships," Drew said in a telephone interview. The Florida-based company plans an event Wednesday to unveil its marketing initiatives.

Six Flags announced the pending sale in January as a move designed to cut its debt load.

Darien Lake is the largest of the sites involved in the sale. In addition to 43 rides, the site about 25 miles east of Buffalo includes a water park, camping, catering facilities and a concert venue with room for 21,000 people.

The other properties in the deal were Elitch Gardens in Denver; Frontier City and White Water Bay in Oklahoma City; Splashtown in Houston; Waterworld in Concord, Calif., and Wild Waves & Enchanted Village in Seattle.

With about 950,000 visitors in 2006, Darien Lake outpaced the other properties except for Elitch Gardens, with which it was about even, the park's buyer said.

PARC created an entity called PARC 7F Operations to buy stock representing the seven properties for $312 million in cash and notes. The acquisition company then sold the properties to an Orlando, Fla.-based real estate investment trust (REIT) called CNL Income Properties Inc., for the same amount. The two-stage transaction was necessary because REITs are barred from buying stock. The REIT's $1.5 billion portfolio includes marinas and golf and skiing resorts as well as amusement parks.
PARC Operations leases the parks from CNL under a 52-year term.

The new owners are betting that American consumers seeking more quality time will bring more business to "lifestyle" properties.

Launched by Buffalo businessman Paul Snyder, Darien Lake was bought by Six Flags in 1995.

e-mail: fwilliams@buffnews.com

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