Dan Snyder, the controlling interest in Six Flags as well as the owner of the Washington Redskins, installed his crack management team to solve that Six Flags things over there when he forcefully took control of the company in 2005. Mark Shapiro, formerly the ESPN programming chief, took the reins and promptly instituted cheerleaders, which should have taken care of the company’s money woes.
(”No, no… we had Bugs Bunny tested and his theta levels are stellar. So are you interested in investing?”)
Somehow, though, young men and women hopping up and down rhythmically didn’t wash away the $2.4 billion in debt nor the losses each quarter. Therefore, Six Flags is following the cool kids in town and filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy just to ditch most of the debt and then climb right back out. You know, like that time you ran up $50,000 on your credit cards, declared bankruptcy, ditched the debt, and kept your house and car.
Shapiro made it all sound quite simple, really, like the Great Uncapped Year of 2009:
The current management team inherited a $2.4 billion debt load that cannot be sustained, particularly in these challenging financial market.
Why, that sounds quite Presidential! Of course it’s not Shapiro’s fault or even Snyder’s fault. It’s those other guys back there who did the bad thing. Not us! (By the way, this same speech is lined up for the next owner of the Washington Redskins when they declare bankruptcy and throw half their contracts off the books.)
All of this has been coming for some time (as noted in SbB articles in years past) and yet Albert Haynesworth got his contract worth roughly Everything Ever, so Snyder must not be fatally affected. (Thankfully, none of the alleged norovirus victims at one of the Six Flags parks was, either.)
However, we can look forward to more numbers games. For example, the company had a 24% drop in revenue but bragged in its press release about its “record year”, achieved by damned near giving away the tickets. It’s like how the NFL measures sellouts for blackout purposes except with more honesty; the NFL would never admit discounting the expensive seats.
And what could go wrong with a chief financial officer that used to do the same job at Euro Disney? Nothing. Nothing could go wrong. (Except maybe institutional ennui. “Eh, perhaps I shall capture this ‘road runner’ on another day. Why should I go on? I shall watch these cheerleaders instead and sip my ridiculously expensive coffee.”)