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Amusement park giant buys Harlem Globetrotters

Published on -10/1/2013, 9:56 AM

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PHOENIX (AP) -- Georgia-based Herschend Family Entertainment Corp. has acquired Harlem Globetrotters International Inc. from Shamrock Capital Advisors.

Terms of the deal were not revealed.

Herschend, based in Norcross, Ga., is a family-owned company that owns and operates 26 theme parks, aquariums and other attractions nationwide. Among its operations is a partnership with country singing star Dolly Parton for Dollywood and Dollywood's Splash Country in Tennessee. It also is an operating partner of Stone Mountain Park in Atlanta, and owner of Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo. Founded by the Herschend family 50 years ago, the company also owns Newport Aquariums in New Jersey and Kentucky and Wild Adventures Theme Park in Valdosta, Ga.

The Phoenix-based Globetrotters have provided basketball hilarity to the masses since 1916, performing 25,000 "games" around the globe. Currently, the Globetrotters display their antics in about 400 games per year.

Shamrock Capital Advisors, a Los Angeles-based investment firm, purchased the Globetrotters in 2005 and reportedly had been shopping the team in recent months. The Los Angeles Business Journal in June listed the proposed price as anywhere from $50 million to $100 million.

Joel Manby, president and CEO of Herschend, said the Globetrotters fit perfectly in the company's family-oriented operations.

"The team is coming off its best touring year ever, and this acquisition helps HFE diversify into a new but complementary business," Manby said in a statement announcing the sale. "Becoming the new owners of this legendary team is a natural step as HFE continues to develop wholesome, immersive entertainment that parents can trust -- entertainment that brings families together."

Globetrotters CEO Kurt Schneider said the team's "brand is hotter than ever."

Herschend said that the Globetrotters management team and roster would remain in place. The Globetrotters have about 90 employees.

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