SeaWorld Isn't Going Out of Business — Update on Unpaid Rent Status

Jennifer Farrington - Author
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Mar. 31 2022, Published 1:22 p.m. ET

It has been two years since the COVID-19 pandemic began and yet there are still businesses struggling to regain their footing. It recently came to light that SeaWorld, a marine zoological theme park with locations in Florida, California, and Texas, has defaulted on its deferred rent.

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As a company, SeaWorld could be facing serious repercussions for not paying its rent. Is SeaWorld going out of business? Keep reading to find out all of the details.

Despite the financial troubles it has run into, SeaWorld isn’t going out of business.

While it’s true SeaWorld is facing a heap of trouble for allowing its deferred rent payments to go unpaid, the theme park is here to stay—at least for now. However, the San Diego location could be hit with harsh fines and penalties if it doesn’t come up with the $10 million it owes in back rent, reports The San Diego Union-Tribune.

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When states started shutting down in 2020 in an attempt to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the city of San Diego gave businesses the opportunity to defer their rent. When SeaWorld was afforded this option, it quickly took advantage of it. The opportunity allowed SeaWorld's rent payments for its 190-acre lot to cease (temporarily, of course).

Now that we have entered 2022 and the world is on track to return to somewhat of a normal state, the city of San Diego is making its rounds and collecting checks from tenants for any unpaid deferred rent. The trouble is, SeaWorld isn’t paying up.

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SeaWorld doesn't think it should have to pay past rent due to mandated closures.

While it has been made abundantly clear that businesses, including SeaWorld, are working to raise their revenues to pre-pandemic levels, that can take time. In an effort to support these businesses, the city of San Diego has offered those that neglected to pay rent during shutdowns to satisfy their outstanding debt through a rent deferral payment plan.

The rent deferral payment plan would allow the balance to be paid over a 24-month period, and wouldn't include added fees and penalty charges. If SeaWorld agreed to the payment plan, it would only be obligated to pay $8,856,103.93, reports The San Diego Union-Tribune. The theme park hasn't addressed its debt yet. SeaWorld said that it wasn't required to pay rent due to mandated closures.

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Despite what SeaWorld executives might think or feel, the city of San Diego is prepared to collect the back rent that's owed. “SeaWorld will not be let off the hook,” said San Diego Chief Operating Officer Jay Goldstone. “We’ve told SeaWorld we are not going to provide any further special discount of what you owe as back rent.”

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Who owns Seaworld?

Seaworld is owned by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. The company is widely recognized for its ownership of animal exhibitions and theme parks, as well as brand Busch Gardens, Discovery Cove, and Sesame Place. SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is a public company and trades on the NYSE under the ticker symbol "SEAS."

Although SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment stock plummeted as we entered 2020, it has since increased and is trading at $75.51 as of March 31.

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