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WEB EXTRA: Pete Herschend Talks About Buying the Harlem Globetrotters

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Pete Herschend, co-founder of Herschend Family Entertainment, talks to KOLR10 News about why his company purchased the Harlem Globetrotters - in this WEB EXTRA.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Pete Herschend, co-founder of Herschend Family Entertainment, talks to KOLR10 News about why his company purchased the Harlem Globetrotters - in this WEB EXTRA.

Because Herschend Family Entertainment is well known for it's properties in theme parks and attractions like Silver Dollar City, Dollywood, White Water and the Branson Belle, buying a basketball team seemed like a departure from the business model.   KOLR10 News asked Herschend about the philosophy behind the purchase.

"We're less in basketball and much more in family entertainment.  You could say 'how to you explain The Ducks compared to Dollywood or Silver Dollar City'."  The answer is all of those operations are in business to entertain a family.  The Harlem Globetrotters are in business - have been for 80 years - in business to entertain families.  So, from that standpoint, it is a very, very good fit.   It is unusual has thought about us about getting out of the park and tourism business.  But it is a good fit from our standpoint and a good fit from their standpoint.  It's a win-win.  Nobody was under duress, it was not a forced sale.  We didn't get somebody out of foreclosure.  It is a good, sound, profitable business that fits well with us.

Q:  How did it come about:?

"They came to us.  About 4 months ago.  How they came to us, I wasn't part of the negotiating team, so I don't know the detailed answer on that.  But Herschend Family Entertainment has a reasonable reputation in the entertainment business - the ticketed entertainment business.  They knew enough about us - they knew alot about us when they made that first phone call.  Our first reaction was ...ohhh, not sure.  And then everybody who was concerned thought about it a little bit and said, 'You know what?  That fits.'  If we can make that work and fit financially and if there's a good people-fit.  I'm talking about management to management - if we can make that all work - that makes sense.  Because what they do is make it more fun than almost anything for kids, 6, 12, 14 years old - exactly who we like to entertain. 

You know the term sea change?  It's when the oceans change dramatically.  This is a sea change for the company.  Because while I said before, we are in the family entertainment business, we heretofore have been in ticketed and, by and large, themed attractions.  Silver Dollar City, the Showboat, White Water - even our campground.  This is certainly in the entertainment business, but it isn't a themed attraction in the sense that I just used the word.  And that's a significant change for the company to move in that direction.  And it's one we have talked about - not specifically about the Harlem Globetrotters.  But we have talked about this sort of thing for probably two or three years now in terms of organizing and how we would get it done."

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