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Six Flags Great America Capital Improvements Deal

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This sounds promising, Six Flags Great America is going to invest $15 million in capital improvements not related to rides in the next 7 years.




Gurnee to consider $4 million tax incentive for Great America


The Gurnee village board will consider approving a $4 million tax incentive program for Six Flags Great America next week.


The money would help the park offset the $15 million in capital improvements officials plan to complete in the next seven years. Jack Linehan, the assistant to the village administrator, said Wednesday the money would go toward infrastructure work and security enhancements, "None of this money is going toward rides," Linehan said.


The village collects a 4 percent amusement tax from theme park admissions. If the incentive plan is approved, the village will cap the park's amusement tax revenue at $2.8 million. That means any tax revenue above that amount will return to Great America.


The village would increase the cap by 2 percent each year of the seven-year agreement or until the village returns a total of $4 million to Great America, whichever comes first.


Mayor Kristina Kovarik said it's a good deal for the village and the theme park.


"The village board has talked about making investments in entertainment and tourism, and this is our first one," Kovarik said.


In a statement Wednesday, Great America spokeswoman Tess Claussen praised the village as a strong partner over the park's 42-year history.


"This incentive program encourages the financial success of the park," Claussen said. "We are excited for the partnership and for the support of the Village of Gurnee and look forward to making lasting capital improvements in years to come."


Kovarik said the village used the park's recent ticket sales as a baseline in setting the cap at $2.8 million.


"So they have to sell more tickets to earn tax incentive money," Kovarik said. "(Guests) will eat more food and buy more merchandise; that helps us too."


According to the Gurnee's latest budget, the village collected $2,040,273 in amusement taxes from Six Flags during fiscal year 2017. At the time, the amusement tax was 3 percent, meaning Great America collected about $68 million in admission fees that year.


The village board increased the amusement tax rate to 4 percent in March.


If Great America admission fees total $68 million in fiscal year 2019, the village will collect just over $2.7 million under the new tax rate.


Kovarik said the village and theme park began discussing the incentive program after the village board raised the amusement tax rate.


The plan will be the subject of a special public hearing at 6:40 p.m. Monday before the regularly scheduled board meeting at 7 p.m. Linehan said the plan likely will be up for a vote during the regular board meeting.




Gurnee eyes $4 million tax incentive program for Great America upgrades


A $4 million amusement tax incentive program to help fund upgrades and safety improvements at Six Flags Great America will be the subject of a public hearing and likely a vote Monday before the Gurnee Village Board.


The proposal only involves the park’s amusement tax, and will not impact property taxes paid to any taxing agencies or bodies that serve Gurnee, according to Mayor Kristi Kovarik. The village does not levy a property tax.


If approved, the village would freeze the park’s amusement tax payment at its current level and will rebate to the park any profits above that level for a period of seven years or until the revenue generated reaches $4 million, Village Administrator Patrick Muetz said.


Great America Communications Manager Tess Claussen said Tuesday that agreement would allow the park to make capital improvements needed to keep the park updated and stable in the long term.


“In our 42-year history, Six Flags Great America has contributed greatly to the economic landscape of the community,” Claussen said. “In those years, the village of Gurnee has been an excellent partner. We are excited for the partnership and for the support of Gurnee and look forward to making lasting capital improvements in years to come.”


She said the incentive program, “encourages the financial success of the park and the (eventual) increase of our amusement tax contribution to the village.”


Noting the age of the park, Muetz said the improvements are expected to focus on needed capital updates and improvements for items such as restrooms, roofs, flooring, parking and general aesthetics.


The safety aspects could range from replacement of old metal detectors, to the purchase of new first aid equipment and increased cameras and lighting, he said.


Muetz and Kovarik said that because the amusement tax revenue to the village remains the same, it would be up to Six Flags to generate the additional revenue through improved ticket sales.


“It’s 100 percent on Six Flags,” he said. “It’s 100 percent performance-based.”


Kovarik said if the program is successful, the rebates would free up other revenue for the park to use toward new rides and attractions to keep it competitive.


She said the park’s plan to hold a winter holiday fest this year, opening at times in November and December, is one example of a program expected to immediately boost park revenue.


Kovarik said Great America has done a good job of keeping up and improving its facility over the years, “and we wouldn’t want to see it become rundown.”



Edited by Medusa42
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