San Diego’s City Council is complaining about a distinctive piscine aroma coming from SeaWorld San Diego, which is in default on rent payments to the city despite generating record-breaking revenue.
According to the Inside the Magic blog, the San Diego City Council has voted to sue the popular theme park to recover more than $12 million in back rent incurred during the pandemic.
“Despite publicly touting record revenues as recently as last week, SeaWorld continues to refuse to pay the over $12 million they owe the city in past due rent, penalties, and interest,” said Council President Sean Elo-Rivera after the municipal body voted 8-0 to proceed with litigation.
SeaWorld San Diego, a division of SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. (NYSE:SEAS), reported record revenue at $293.3 million during the first quarter of this year, up 8.4% from one year ago and up 33% from the pre-pandemic first quarter of 2019.
SeaWorld is the only lessee among San Diego’s hundreds of tenants that is in default on its rent. The city treasurer reported last year that venue owes more $9.7 million in unpaid rent – the treasurer is also demanding SeaWorld pay the $12,000 cost of its audit.
SeaWorld has argued that was not required to make minimum rent payments during the pandemic-era’s mandated closure and stated it still needed to care for its animals and maintain internal operations when it was not generating revenue.
But City Attorney Mara W. Elliott was unmoved by that argument and said, “SeaWorld’s greed and arrogance are offensive, and the city will hold it accountable.”
Photo courtesy of SeaWorld San Diego
Even if Seaworld is successful in avoiding rent in a tough market, what is their plan when their lease is up?
Small victories in the short term, don’t create a win-win situation!
Time to shut the down! Won’t be missed.