Land-Sale Advocates Endorse New Six Flags Director

January 31, 2023, 1:30 PM · Remember that investment group that wanted Six Flags to sell the land underneath its amusement parks to help boost Six Flags' stock price? It appears that Six Flags management now is working with those investors, as the company has announced a new independent member for its board of directors.

Six Flags announced today that former Las Vegas casino executive Marilyn Spiegel has joined its Board of Directors, effective immediately. Spiegel worked as regional president for Harrah's - now Caesars Entertainment Corp. - in charge of the Paris Las Vegas, Bally’s, Planet Hollywood, and Rio hotels before becoming president of Wynn Las Vegas and Encore. She will stand for election along with six other board members at Six Flags' next annual meeting.

"We are delighted to welcome Marilyn to Six Flags," Six Flags Non-Executive Chairman of the Board Ben Baldanza said. "Her experience spanning over three decades in the hotel and entertainment industries will provide the Company with valuable insight and guidance as we seek to elevate the guest experience and deliver long-term, profitable growth."

In its press release announcing the appointment, Six Flags prominently featured a quote from the head of the investment group that has been pushing for the land sale. [See our previous post, Should Six Flags Sell Land to Boost Its Stock Price? for the background on that.]

"The addition of Marilyn to Six Flags' Board, with her extensive track record in the hospitality industry and her experience overseeing operations with significant real estate portfolios, is a positive development for Six Flags' shareholders," Land & Buildings Founder and Chief Investment Officer, Jonathan Litt, said. "As we've previously stated, we believe the company has a tremendous value creation opportunity in front of it – including by exploring ways to potentially monetize its uniquely valuable real estate portfolio. We look forward to continuing to engage with the Board and leadership team."

Under current CEO and President Selim Bassoul, Six Flags has posted dismal financial performance as the company has pivoted away from discounts in an attempt to increase guest spending. [Attendance, Revenue Plummet at Six Flags] But higher prices without new and better attractions have kept fans away from Six Flags, even as its competitors at Cedar Fair and SeaWorld (and Disney and Universal) have enjoyed rising attendance and record financial results after the pandemic lockdowns lifted.

A land sale would bring an immediate windfall of cash to Six Flags, boosting its stock price. But then the parks would be forced to pay rent to continue operating - and as anyone getting crunched by rent payments right now knows, that's hardly a comfortable place to be.

Maybe if Six Flags spent all of that real estate windfall on Disney-caliber new attractions to boost attendance from high-spending families, it could come out ahead. But without a massive spike in new income from park guests, it's hard to see how many Six Flags parks would be able to survive the added expense of annual rent payments, given their current financial state.

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Replies (9)

January 31, 2023 at 1:50 PM

Looks like a shareholder exit strategy if I ever saw one. To top it off, it creates a poison pill for any other company that would ever consider purchasing the chain. Why do so many theme park CEOs want to run their companies into the ground instead of allowing them to grow and flourish organically?

January 31, 2023 at 2:03 PM

Just what SF needed, a board member from the perfectly ethical and not scummy at all casino industry who was put on there by raiders that want to scam the company out of its real estate. Maybe someday they will get someone on their board that knows something about theme parks (but probably not).

January 31, 2023 at 2:09 PM

Seems like an accounting thing to avoid taxes. They form an REIT(that they control) and then pay themselves rent to avoid being taxed on profit. Casinos have been doing it for 10 years.

Kinda obvious with an experienced casino exec on the board now.

January 31, 2023 at 2:54 PM

Don't think it's a tax dodge, more like a way to extract value from the land and fuel growth. That is what the casinos have been doing. Six Flags could use this capital to grow more park and attractions.
The short sighted fan boyz who post comments here don't see that because all they want to see is more Disney parks.

January 31, 2023 at 3:06 PM

It all comes down to what SF does with the land-sale cash.

Plow it back into new and better attractions, draw more fans who spend more, then use that money to pay the rent and fund future expansion? Great. Then the plan worked... at least for fans. But that plan wouldn't do much to boost the stock price right away.

Just give the money to stockholders, instead? That's what really would boost the stock price immediately, but it would doom some, if not all, of the parks.

January 31, 2023 at 3:29 PM

six flags just doesn't have the credibility for me to give them the benefit of the doubt. hope I'm wrong!

January 31, 2023 at 5:23 PM

We all know what’s going to happen. Needs to be claw back BOD comp regulations for long term shareholders harmed by self enriching temporary buyback plans. The SF parks are already in poor condition and it’s not just about the need for new attractions but for deferred infrastructure and facility repairs and improvements. SF would be better off re-branding and focusing on key regional parks, closing run down smaller parks and selling that land for cash to focus on the remaining parks. Capital is spread too thin to make enough of a difference for all the current parks.

February 1, 2023 at 8:21 AM

I fear for Great America

February 1, 2023 at 8:34 AM

Ultimately what they are doing is to boost the stock price, but I think Flaexpat has it figured out how they plan on doing that. Paying less taxes will result in boosting profits.

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