With Cedar Point opening day only a few short weeks away, now is usually when the excitement for the opening of the big new attraction reaches its peak. Diehard Cedar Point fans have had their calendars marked for months now in anticipation for the big day. But did Cedar Point already open their biggest addition for 2017 without anyone really noticing? Sports Force Parks Sandusky opened to very little fanfare recently holding the facility’s first baseball tournament St. Patrick’s Day weekend. This will be just one of 39 tournaments that the Cedar Point Sports Center’s facilities will host between March and August of this year. But why is Cedar Point, one of the world’s most well-known thrill parks entering the baseball business, and why should we care? Simple… because the future of Cedar Point is being made very clear by this very big move.
What is Sports Force Parks?
Sports Force Parks Sandusky is a 57-acre sports complex that features state of the art playing fields for baseball, softball, soccer, and lacrosse. For the younger crowd, the facility is also home to a playground which features an RCI Ropes Course that should be fun for all ages. The complex sits on the former land that was once occupied by the Griffing Sandusky Airport that Cedar Fair purchased back in 2012. Many rumors swirled when this purchase was made; some speculating this to be the location of a new resort, even some rumors thought they could move the then named Soak City to this location to provide more room for ride expansion. When it was announced last year that a sports complex would be taking the acquired land, more than a few people were left scratching their heads.
So why is Cedar Point building a sports complex?
This would seem to have been the question of the hour, especially after it was announced. Finding the answer is rather easy. Simply review the other Cedar Point announcements, and you can see a clear picture is being drawn. It is all about creating a multi-day experience! In addition to Sports Force Parks, Cedar Point announced the expansion of their off-site hotel Breakers Express which they are re-naming Cedar Point Express. They also announced the new Cedar Point Shores water park which will expand and update the former Soak City park. In addition to this, an expansion of its flagship hotel, Hotel Breakers, was also announced to be opening in 2018. Factor in these announcements with the aforementioned Sports Complex, and the goal is clear. Cedar Point wants to become even more of a destination vacation site. By adding more to do, more places to stay, and new facilities, it increases the likelihood you will spend more than one day in the park. The sports complex will only help to ensure that. Hosting multi-day tournaments ensures families will be in the area for an extended period. That means they will need places to stay, and Cedar Point has plenty of those options available. What if your team plays in the morning? You will need something to do to pass the time the rest of the day, and guess what? Cedar Point has a pretty huge option for that as well! To help further, included with your participation in a Sports Force Park tournament is a significantly discounted ticket opportunity for the participants and their families to take in the attractions at Cedar Point. For participants in a weekend tournament, Cedar Point is offering a 5-day access pass for only $80. For an 8-day access pass, tickets are available for $109 dollars. So, the strategy is clear; invite dozens of local families to participate in a weekend athletic tournament and then lead them straight underneath Gatekeepers mighty keyholes when the tournament concludes to experience “America’s rockin roller coast” for themselves.
Will it work?
Obviously, it is way too early to tell if this strategy will pay off as big as expected, but you simply only need to look at Cedar Fair CEO Matt Ouimet’s old stomping grounds as an example of why it could be extremely successful. In 1997, Disney opened The Wide World of Sports Complex with huge success. While this is more catered to professional and semi-professional sports compared to Sports Force in Sandusky’s more family-centered approach, it still provides an example of how broadening your audience and inviting new families can generate an increase in attendance and revenue. During the summer months, many families travel across the state to participate in baseball and softball tournaments, and that normally would decrease the opportunities these families would otherwise find time to make a trip to Cedar Point. By welcoming these families with their own summer tournaments and enticing them with perhaps the most well-known amusement park skyline in the background, Cedar Point is opening the door to bring in new families every summer. By providing these families with discounted tickets, it will make it very difficult for parents to say, “No,” when their child begs them to go across the lake to ride “that big blue one!” Has Cedar Point hit a home run in their quest to be a multi-day resort? I think it is safe to say the runner is rounding third base and heading home!