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Cedar Fair & BGSU partner on college in downtown Sandusky

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Interesting move on Cedar Fair's part.





Downtown college pushed





Two Ohio-based institutions partnered on a proposed multimillion-dollar project, representing, quite possibly, the most significant investment ever made in downtown Sandusky.


Through an unprecedented publicprivate partnership, Cedar Fair and Bowling Green State University want to create a college paired with a campus-style environment somewhere within the city’s central business district.


It’s possible the academic center, solely focused on teaching tourism related courses, and a related residential setting, housing upward of 200 students year-round, could open by 2020.

Early estimates show the project could cost between $15 million and $25 million.


Before pursuing construction, however, those overseeing the project must first receive state-approved college accreditation, secure funding and obtain building permits, among other tasks.


Several unknowns about the project exist, including an exact location. But college administrators and park executives stressed they’re committed to finding a site downtown.


This past week, officials representing the university, company and city exclusively spoke with the Register to explain their roles.


BGSU’s role

Bowling Green State University recently began developing a curriculum tailored around the tourism industry for a proposed college in Sandusky. More specifically, it focuses on subjects pertaining to the business of traveling, hospitality and entertainment.


Undergraduates at the junior and senior levels can register for classes on these subjects, all taught by university-employed educators.


BGSU students, no matter at the main campus in Bowling Green or BGSU Firelands in Huron Township, are eligible to sign up for these classes. Meanwhile, those enrolled elsewhere, such as at other colleges, can transfer into the program.


Upon completion of the major, students would receive a bachelor’s degree in resort and attraction management.


No other accredited post-secondary organization offers this type of academic program.


Cedar Fair’s role

Headquartered in Sandusky, Cedar Fair indicated it would “be engaged in the program by providing input on the curriculum, adjunct instruction by qualified employees, paid co-ops and other experiential learning opportunity,” according to a company statement.


Executives envision the academic program serving as a professional pipeline, directing trained and skilled graduates to employment opportunities at one of Cedar Fair’s 11 properties, including Cedar Point in Sandusky.


A degree can also prepare students to find work at other amusement parks, cruise lines, resorts, hotels and countless other tourism-related jobs or careers.


The proposal calls for constructing up to a 15,000-square-foot facility, equipped with classrooms and meeting spaces. It would also include a separate residential living component, where students attending classes can stay and live among Sanduskians.


Their joint role

In a statement released to the Register, leaders from both the college and company spoke about this project’s importance.


“Bowling Green State University and Cedar Fair Entertainment Co. are collaborating on a new academic program that combines the business perspective on the field of resort and attraction management while leveraging the resources, expertise and real-world opportunities of Cedar Fair and its affiliated parks across North America, including Ohio parks Cedar Point (in Sandusky) and Kings Island (near Cincinnati),” according to the statement.


“Students will have access to a worldwide network of amusement parks and attractions via Cedar Fair’s affiliation with the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, which represents nearly 5,000 amusementindustry members in 99 countries worldwide,” the statement read. “The new program is a unique public-private partnership that combines a leading international entertainment company with one of Ohio’s largest universities. It will have a national reach in attracting students to its distinct program and guaranteeing the placement of internships across the country and helping ensure that students have the skills to succeed in the workplace.”


Sandusky’s role

Representatives from both BGSU and Cedar Fair credit Sandusky’s government officials for proposing a college campus downtown. Officials pushed the idea forward more than two years ago and have campaigned for it ever since.


Introduced in the city’s bicentennial vision master plan, named after Sandusky’s 200th anniversary happening this year, a downtown college campus presents far-reaching ramifications for the good.


“Higher education options in the region must also be expanded and improved not only to educate students born and raised locally but also to attract talented students to study and potentially stay in Sandusky after graduation,” according to a statement from the bicentennial vision. “Expanding higher education options for locals and non-locals has the potential to impact the local economy in a variety of ways. It would raise educational attainment levels within the region, a critical factor in attracting and growing businesses that will create jobs.”


Leaders from BGSU and Cedar Fair doubled-down on the assessment.


“This is a unique opportunity to bring major, transformative economic development (opportunities) to the city, attract a vibrant student population, be a catalyst for the offseason economy and provide more economic balance to area businesses,” their statement read.


“The new program is a unique public-private partnership that combines a leading international entertainment company with one of Ohio’s largest universities.”


Edited by Medusa42
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I'm a little excited about this, despite the fact I've committed to Rowan University. I can go a lot more in depth of what I want to do, I think Cedar Fair may strike gold with this (especially if they can get people with Coops. It also sounds like, for example, I want to do a study abroad in Spain-maybe a Coop at Parque Warner Madrid would be possible, right?).

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This sounds very interesting. As far as I know, UCF is one of the only universities that has a program focused on theme park management. I wonder if this college will have a similar theme park-specific major/program, or just generically tourism, hospitality, and entertainment.

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From reading the press release, it looks like that may be the case - "Upon completion of the major, students would receive a bachelor’s degree in resort and attraction management".  If it was just hotels and resorts, it would be a BA in Hospitality Management.  


Interesting note, a lot of school that offer degrees in Sports Management or Sports Analytics say their coursework includes theme parks.  Things you'd never consider, but then again, marketing and running a sports team really isn't that far off from running a theme park, I guess.  

Edited by Lemur
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I think it's cool that there's finally a college degree specifically geared for amusement parks;most colleges do offer "hospitality management" classes,but those seem mostly geared towards hotels or restaurants/bars.

On a different forum it seemed like Cedar Point had bought some empty buildings near the park;if so,might those properties be used for the "theme park college"?

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