- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Washington Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder and two associates were elected to the Six Flags Inc. Board of Directors, the world’s largest regional theme-park company said yesterday.

Mr. Snyder, whose Ashburn, Va., investment firm Red Zone LLC owns 11.7 percent of company stock, waged a three-month battle to persuade other shareholders to shake up the company’s board.

He and former ESPN executive Mark Shapiro and NVR Inc. Chairman Dwight Schar were named directors to Six Flag’s seven-seat board.

“The shareholders have spoken — and we would like to thank all of them for this vote of confidence,” Mr. Snyder said.

Shares of Six Flags, the New York owner and operator of 30 parks including Six Flags America in Largo, rose 10 cents on the New York Stock Exchange to close at $7.50 yesterday from Monday’s price of $7.40.

The company said its independent inspector, IVS Associates Inc., verified that shareholders owning more than 57 percent of company stock voted for the new directors.

The three new board members replaced Six Flags Chief Executive Officer Kieran Burke, Chief Financial Officer James Dannhauser and board member Stanley Shuman, the company said.

The election affects board seats but not Mr. Burke’s or Mr. Dannhauser’s jobs at Six Flags, said company spokesman Jeremy Jacobs.

Mr. Snyder wants to become the company’s chairman and bring in Mr. Shapiro as Six Flags’ CEO.

He could request a special meeting of the new board be scheduled as early as Friday. Two directors can call a special meeting with three days’ notice, according to the company’s bylaws filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Mr. Snyder said he would revamp the company’s advertising and marketing strategies to increase shareholder returns.

He has told Six Flags executives they must “aggressively” pursue sponsorship deals to increase revenue. New roller coasters are “not likely the key to the company’s future success,” he said in an Oct. 7 letter to Six Flags.

He likely will use marketing methods at Six Flags similar to those he has used to make the Redskins the most profitable sports franchise in the United States, said Marc Ganis, president of Sportscorp Ltd., a Chicago sports marketing firm.

“I would expect to see more of a convergence between the entertainment Six Flags offers with music and sports,” Mr. Ganis said, adding that Redskins promotions likely would be tied in at Six Flags’ Largo location.

Six Flags, which has been criticized for focusing most of its marketing on teens, could be revamped by Mr. Snyder to attract families and older consumers, Mr. Ganis said.

But Mr. Snyder faces criticism from fans and advocacy groups that cite rowdy behavior, excessive drinking, increasing corporate ads and scantily clad cheerleaders who perform suggestive dance moves at FedEx Field Stadium in Landover.

“It’s becoming a coarser climate and less family friendly,” said Robert Knight, Culture and Family Institute director with Concerned Women for America, a D.C. family advocacy group.

“I wouldn’t say the Redskins are something you wouldn’t want to be associated with. The team has a good name, but the trend in uncivil behavior at games and on TV broadcast is something that should concern Redskins management,” he said.

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