Hang On, LeBron Fans: A King James Roller Coaster's Coming

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LeBron's Decision Basketball
Lori Shepler/AP
A financial windfall will accompany LeBron James when he returns to northeastern Ohio. Following the NBA superstar's decision over the weekend to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Cuyahoga County officials estimated that the local economy will benefit to the tune of roughly $500 million a year.

A little more than half of that windfall will come from the games themselves as ticket sales spike with fans willing to pay more -- and more often -- to see James play near his hometown of Akron. The balance will come from tourism and the exposure that comes from TV coverage that will gravitate to Cavaliers home games. Some experts, though. caution that the real revenue will be far less.

However, an unlikely winner from James' move may be of the country's largest amusement park operators.

Please Secure All Loose Belongings

Just 62 miles separate the Cavs' arena and Cedar Fair's (FUN) Cedar Point amusement park, on a scenic peninsula in Sandusky.

Last Wednesday -- two days before James made his big announcement that he would leave the Miami Heat after four seasons -- Cedar Point made an interesting Twitter post: "Hey @KingJames - come back to the @cavs and we'll rename one of our coasters, 'King James!' Ball in your court, sir. RT, #Ohio!"

It wasn't just talk. Shortly after James announced his decision to return home, Cedar Point promised to live up to its earlier promise: "It's been fun to watch the excitement surrounding the return of @KingJames to Cleveland. We stand ready to honor our original tweet."

James has been to the park a couple of times, and there's a YouTube video of him being heckled there while taking in a game of hoops -- naturally, after he had left Cleveland for Miami.

However, the initially radical thought of renaming a coaster King James now sounds like a winning move with the game's best basketball player coming back home as a prodigal son. That should be good news for Cedar Point and possibly even better news for Cedar Fair.

Coasters Have Their Ups and Downs

Cedar Point may be best known for its array of scream machines, but Cedar Fair is best known by its investors for its juicy dividend -- a healthy 5.7 percent.

Unlike its white-knuckle thrill rides, Cedar Fair revenues have risen steadily between 4 percent and 6 percent in each of the three previous years. Analysts see more of the same through the next couple of years. But the hype that will accompany the park re-branding a coaster as King James will be substantial.

The ideal move, of course, would be for Cedar Fair to announce that it will build a record-breaking coaster at Cedar Point this off season and name it King James. Renaming an existing coaster will upset purists. However, at the end of the day, Cedar Fair took a chance with a publicity stunt that seemed unlikely to pay off when it looked as if James would be signing another deal to stay in Miami. Now that King James is coming home, it's time for Ohio to hang on for the ride.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days.

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James L. Holland

Go with the King James Coaster.
You wil make out Big Cedar Fair.

Jim Holland Jr. The World's Greatest Psychic

July 28 2014 at 4:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
korrectionelecshun

BOYCOTT ALL NBA N ALL NBA APPAREL TILL ALL THESE AFFIRMITIVE ACTION RACISTS ARE OUT OF THE LEAGUE N IT IS SHUT DOWN COMPLETLEY~~'BOYCOTT"~~"BOYCOTT"~~"BOYCOTT"

July 16 2014 at 3:54 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply