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Six Flags Entertainment Corp (SIX) Q2 2020 Earnings Call Transcript | The Motley Fool



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Six Flags Entertainment Corp (NYSE:SIX)
Q2 2020 Earnings Call
Jul 29, 2020, 9:00 a.m. ET


  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:


Ladies and gentlemen, thank for standing by and welcome to the Six Flags Q2 2020 Earnings Conference Call. (Operator Instructions).

Thank you. I will now turn the call over to Steve Purtell, Senior Vice President, Investor Relations.

Stephen PurtellSenior Vice President, Investor Relations and Treasurer

Good morning and welcome to our second quarter call. With me are Mike Spanos, President and CEO of Six Flags; and Sandeep Reddy, our Chief Financial Officer. We will begin the call with prepared comments and then open the call to your questions. Our comments will include forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws. These statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in such statements, and the company undertakes no obligation to update or revise these statements.

In addition, on the call, we will discuss non-GAAP financial measures. Investors can find both a detailed discussion of business risks and reconciliations of non-GAAP financial measures to GAAP financial measures in the company’s Annual Report, Quarterly Report and other forms filed or furnished with the SEC.

At this time, I will turn the call over to Mike.

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Good morning. Thank you for joining our second quarter earnings call. It is with great pleasure that I welcome Sandeep Reddy, who is joining our call for the first time, as our new Chief Financial Officer. He is a seasoned public company CFO with exceptional strategic, analytical and change management skills. He’s an experienced developer of team capability and an outstanding addition to the Six Flag’s team. I would also like to thank Lenny Ross for his outstanding leadership, commitment and business partnership, over the last four months. He played a vital role as interim CFO during a very challenging time. He will continue to report to me in a large operational role that will compliment his individual development and skills and position him to contribute significantly to our long term success.

This quarter tested everyone at the company and I am proud of how the entire team rose to meet the challenges that the world is facing. Seeing how the team responded over the last several months gives me even more conviction that Six Flags is a truly special company. In the early part of the quarter, we were in a crisis management mode. It was an all hands on deck effort to keep our people safe, reduce our cash burn and bolster our liquidity position. However, as a situation has evolved over the last summer months, we have switched from defense to offense. Our number one priority is always safety, but we have broadened our focus. We learned how to operate profitably with reduced capacity today and how we can be an even stronger company on the other side of the pandemic. In this very dynamic environment, I am proud of how the team has reached a level of nimbleness and agility. We have been able to respond very quickly and effectively as the situation continues to evolve.

On today’s call, I will provide more detail on the progress we have made, reopening our parks during the pandemic. And the trends we are seeing in the business. Then Sandeep will discuss our financial performance and liquidity position. Before opening up for QA, I will highlight our transformation initiative to drive earnings growth, and improve the guest experience, so that we emerge stronger and more profitable after the crisis. On March, 13, we suspended our operations in response to the COVID 19 pandemic and local government mandates. Our immediate focus was on liquidity and cash flow. We shored up our liquidity and implemented aggressive cost saving measures that partially offset the resulting revenue decline. We also proactively communicated with our guests to preserve our act past base during this period of uncertainty. These efforts have been very successful as we limited our net cash outflow in the second quarter to approximately $25 million per month, a significant improvement compared to the average $30 million to $35 million per month that we projected on our last earnings call.

Over the last few months we work closely with local health authorities, disease experts and others in the theme park industry. We also solicited extensive feedback from our guests to understand their expectations and they socially distance world. This work has enabled us to implement best-in-class safety protocols, including health screenings of team members, temperature checks of both team members and guests, mandatory facemask requirements for anyone in our parks, pervasive social distancing markers, that abundance of hand sanitizing and hand washing stations added throughout our parks in frequent sanitization of rides and other high touch points. We also established clean teams to uphold the highest standards of cleanliness. The crisis has allowed us to accelerate the introduction of technology into our parks that will have ongoing benefits even after the crisis subsides.

We have used technology to remove some of the pain points common theme parks. These include advanced reservations online, which spread out the entry times for guests to avoid wait times at the gate, contactless temperature and security screening to ease entry into the park, mobile food ordering to reduce the time it takes to fulfill an order and encourage guests to add on to their order through easier menu access and testing of reverse ATM machines to reduce cash transactions. In addition, we we’ll be testing our newly developed virtual queuing system in one of our parks. Waiting in long lines is consistently ranked as the number one pain point and our guests experience in virtual queuing technology will allow customers to push a button on their smartphone to secure a seat on one of our major coasters without physically standing in line.

If a testing is successful, we will begin rolling the technology out to other parks. With our new operating protocols and technology in place, we have resumed limited operations at 14 of our parks. In addition, we opened our Safari as a stand-alone attraction at Six Flags Great Adventure and animal experience at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, our hotel waterpark at The Great Escape in our campground at Darien Lake. We’ve used a cautious and phased approach with limited attendance in accordance with local conditions and government guidelines. Our park reopenings initially experienced solid demand as our customer saw opportunities to have fun in the safe and outdoor environment that our parks provide. In addition, guest feedback on our enhanced safety protocols has been very positive. However, a recent spike in coronavirus cases in many of the states in which we operate has had a negative impact on demand to this our parks. It is very difficult to forecast future demand trends in this rapidly changing environment.

Based on capacity limitations designed to ensure a safe environment for guests as well as current demand trends. We expect daily attendance to be approximately 25% to 30% of prior year levels for the foreseeable future. This has resulted in our reducing some Park schedules to maximize attendance on the days we are open. There’s no question that this is unprecedented environment has created challenges for our business. However, our parks have a number of advantages top rate during the pandemic compared to other out of home entertainment attractions. First, our parks our outdoor venues and spread over anywhere from a dozen to 100s of acres, allowing for social distancing. Second, our parks are open many hours throughout the day reducing the need for people to arrive or leave at the same time. Third, our parks are regionally diverse and we operate in the largest markets in the U.S., making us not overly reliant on one geographic region. Fourth, almost 90% of our gas come within driving distance.

So we are not dependent on air travel or other public transportation. Finally, our parks generate cash flow in excess of their variable costs and significantly less than 25% of their maximum capacity. Although this crisis has affected our business profoundly in the short term, it has given us the opportunity to make necessary changes in the business that will benefit us in the long term. I will discuss our long term transformation initiative in the second part of my prepared remarks.

Before I share some additional thoughts about our strategic direction, I will turn the call over to Sandeep to introduce himself and provide some details about our financial performance in liquidity position. Sandeep?

Sandeep ReddyExecutive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Mike and good morning to everyone on the call. I’m very excited to be at Six Flags. I’m a huge fan of the brand and I’ve long admired the consumer experience that delivers. My first month on the job has only confirmed my view that the opportunities ahead are substantial. And the company is well positioned for its next round of profitable growth. I will begin by telling you a little bit about myself. I’ll then discuss our second quarter financial results and liquidity position, and end by outlining our team priorities. I have 25 years of financial strategy experience, primarily in consumer facing businesses. Most recently, I was the CFO of Guest Incorporated, a publicly traded global multi channel lifestyle brand in the fashion industry and prior to that I worked in financials for Mattel Incorporated, one of the leading toy companies in the world.

As CFO of Six Flags, I believe my primary role in partnership with Mike and the leadership team is to identify and drive a value creation agenda for the company. I’ve done this in the past, and believe that with the incredible branded company like Six Flags, we can generate significant value for all stakeholders. I look forward to these opportunities and to meeting many of you on this call. Turning to Six Flags financial performance, results for the second quarter was not comparable to prior, because we suspended the operations of our parks for almost the entire quarter during the pandemic. As Mike mentioned, we were able to limit our net cash outflow for the second quarter to $76 million. This was excluding the costs associated with our financing initiatives are approximately $25 million per month. This represented an improvement compared to the previously projected net cash outflow of $30 million to $35 million per month during the last nine months of 2020.

The improvement was driven by discipline cost management, higher active pass base retention due to the lower than anticipated membership cancellations and Season Pass refund requests, as well as positive cash flow from our parks that have reopened. Total attendance for the quarter was 433,000, half of which came from our drive thru Safari and our Park in New Jersey, which was our first attraction to open. As a result, revenue declined by $458 million or 96% to $19 million. The reduction in revenue included $29 million of membership revenue from our members that have completed that initial 12 month commitment period that we diverted to future periods. But nearly when our members entered a 13 month membership, we recognize the revenue on a monthly basis, according to their cash payments.

However, as part of our retention efforts, we offer an additional monster our members for every month they could not use their home park. As a result, for those members who have completed their initial 12 month commitment period, we will recognize revenue at the end of their membership term, whenever those members utilize their additional months. The decrease in revenue was also partially attributable, to a $29 million reduction in sponsorship, international agreements and accommodations revenue. This reduction was driven by three things, determination of the company’s international contracts in China and Dubai, resulting in no revenues from those contracts in 2020.

Before most sponsorship revenues, while the parks were not operating, the suspension of almost all accommodations operations. We recognized little revenue from corporate sponsorships in the second quarter, but are working with our corporate partners on a case-by-case basis to defer other planned programs until our parks are open. We also continue to recognize revenue from our parks being developed in Saudi Arabia. Guest spending per capita in the quarter decreased 15% to $35.77. Admissions per capita increased 5%, primarily due to a higher mixer single day pay tickets. In parks spending per capita decreased 43%, primarily due to the large proportion of attendance from our drive thru Supply Park, where there is no opportunity for in park spending.

On the cost side, cash operating an SGA expenses, increased by $141 million or 60%, primarily due to proceedings measures we took, after we suspended operations. These savings were partially offset by costs incurred to open and operate our park toward the end of the quarter, including increased costs related to enhanced standardization and additional prevalent preventative measures to help minimize the spread of COVID-19. In addition we increased our legal reserves by $8 in the quarter. These expenses associated with several unrelated legal claims. Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was a loss of $96 million, compared to income of $180 million in the prior period. We now have 14 of 26 parks open. These parks generated more than 50% of our 2019 attendance on a full year basis.

Month to-date in July, we are averaging approximately 30% of Prior attendance at the parks that are open. We are holding steadily in certain states, but are doing much better and improving in states and I experienced of COVID-19 trends. This gives us confidence that we will see a rebound once the virus has abated. In the near-term it is unclear if we will be able to open any of the remaining parks this year, or whether we will close any of the open parks, earlier than prior years. At this time we are evaluating a modified version of our popular Fright Fest and holiday in the park events. Turing to our active pass base, which represents the total number of guests enrolled in the company’s membership program all that have Season pass. As anticipated, we lost a significant season — we lost significant season pass and membership sales while our parks were not operating.

Our Active Pass Base as of the end of the second quarter was down 38% and compared to the prior year quarter. This includes 2.1 million members compared to 2.6 million at the end of calendar year 2019 and 2.4 million at the end of the first quarter 2020. Customers typically purchase new season passes or memberships when they are planning to visit a park. For that reason, the temporary closure of our park had a temporary but large impact on our ability to sell new season passes and memberships. However, we were pleased with the retention of our existing members as we retained 81% of our members since the start of the year through the second quarter. Since we opened our parks, we have begun to sell new memberships and season passes. We are proactively working to retain our existing members and season pass holders in several ways.

First, we offer day-to-day extensions for our season pass holders for each operating day their home park is closed and extended our members by one month for each month that their home park is closed. Second, we offer to automatically upgrade memberships to the next tier level for the rest of the 2020 season for members who continue to make payments until the parks reopen. And third, we offer the pause payments for any member requesting to do so. We are taking members on pause as we open our parks, and we anticipate that most of our pause members will return to active paying members once we reopen our remaining parks. In addition, we are actively recruiting our cancelled members back to our programs now that park operations are beginning to resume. We have received very few refund requests of season passes to date.

While we have no contractual obligation to make a refund, and almost all of our existing pass holders have used their pass at least once, the satisfaction of our guests is very important to us. We are actively engaged in conversations with them to ensure a continued loyalty. In response to our curtailed operations, we continued to take actions to reduce operating expenses and to defer or eliminate at least $50 million to $60 million of capital expenditures. We now expect to spend $80 million to $90 million on capital expenditures in 2020, $10 million lower than our previous projections. We have kept our full-time team members on the payroll and maintain their benefits at the same cost. We believe this has left us in the best position to open our parks quickly. However, we will continue to evaluate all options in the future, given the fluidity of the virus and any associated impacts on park operating calendars.

Based on all the cost savings measures we have implemented, the retention of most of our membership base and positive cash flow from the parks that are currently open, we estimate that our net cash outflows will average between $25 million to $30 million per month through the end of 2020. This includes all operating expenditures and capital expenditures relating to our parks along with contractual rent, interest and partnership park distributions. Note that partnership park distributions occur only in the back half of the year and represent an average run rate of $7 million per month for the last six months of the year. We believe we have adequate liquidity to the end of 2021 even if we need to close our parks. However, if operations remain curtailed, we will likely need a further amendment to our senior secured leverage ratio covenant. We also incurred approximately $6 million of costs on the strategic work related to the transformation initiative that Mike will discuss.

Costs in future periods are included in our net cash outflow estimates. However, we will not finalize the cost of associated savings until we complete the work. We anticipate that a portion of the work will be completed by the fourth quarter of 2020, and the remaining portion will be completed when the parts are again operating at more normal capacity. Deferred revenue of $182 million was down $53 million or 22% to prior year, driven by fewer membership and season pass sales, while our parks have been closed. These lower sales were partially offset by the deferral of revenue out of the quarter from our members who have completed their initial 12-month commitment period and extension of visitation privileges into the 2021 season for our season pass holders and members in the initial 12-month commitment period. Our liquidity position as of June 30 was $756 million. This included $460 million of available revolver capacity, net of $21 million of letters of credit and $296 million of cash.

This compares to a pro forma liquidity position of $832 million as of March 31, 2020, a reduction of $76 million or approximately $25 million per month. We do not expect to draw on our revolver until Q1, 2021. I now would like to turn to our immediate priorities for the company. First, reopen with caution and prioritize the health of our employees and guests. Second, focus on liquidity and minimizing cash expenditure while we go through this period of uncertainty. Third, be conservative with capex, ensuring we only invest in projects with a good return of investment. And finally, continue building business and team capability. We have withdrawn guidance due to the uncertain trajectory of the virus. However, like Mike, I am committed to providing additional disclosures when feasible and being as transparent as possible.

Our capital allocation strategy will be focused on growing the base business and paying down debt to return our net leverage ratio to between three and four times adjusted EBITDA. We have suspended our dividend and share repurchases for the foreseeable future, and we believe targeting the low end of the range is appropriate given the new environment. In summary, despite the challenges our entire industry is facing, we have adapted our operations in response to the crisis, and we remain a healthy company with a bright future. We will not let these difficulties slow down our efforts to build new business capabilities and prepare the company for its next phase of profitable growth.

Now, I will pass the call back over to Mike.

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Sandeep. Our focus is on building a stronger base business and reducing our net leverage ratio. We will be disciplined in this focus post the pandemic. We are developing a holistic transformation program that will allow us to accelerate growth and unlock significant new efficiencies as we emerge from the pandemic and ramp up to full-scale operations. We will focus on revenue generation and cost efficiency programs in our base business as we become a more agile, commercially driven and technology savvy organization. Our transformation will improve the guest end-to-end experience while reducing our operating costs. To this end, we have initiated a detailed review of our business. As we complete different work streams, we will provide our expectations for annual earnings improvements.

Our transformation initiative is composed of three elements. The first element is top line growth. This element is about improving the end-to-end guest experience, starting with price and simplicity, website redesign and a compelling value proposition for food and beverage. One focus area that we previously highlighted was the recapture of lost single day guests. We already saw progress in this area through our focus and targeted offers prior to the COVID-19 crisis and it will continue to be a major focus going forward. The second element is organizational design. The purpose of this element is to enhance the guest and team member experience while creating cost efficiencies. We will reexamine what work belongs in the parks versus headquarters and eliminate any redundancy while being careful to protect the guest and team member experience.

This organizational design will be constructed in a way that fosters an entrepreneurial culture and our park leadership teams. The third element is non-headcount cost reductions. We will leverage the scale of Six Flags and examine each area of our cash operating expenses to determine what is essential. We will capture savings by implementing consistent systems, standards and processes. In addition, we are beginning to revamp our environmental, social and governance program, which has a special emphasis on diversity and inclusion. This is a personal priority for me. I know the importance of this firsthand for my decades of experiences working with diverse teams and customer bases, including in multiple countries and cultures around the globe.

I believe diversity and inclusion provide the necessary foundation for a sustainable and healthy business, more importantly, they are simply the values we should all uphold. We will integrate diversity and inclusion into our existing business agenda, and we will hold ourselves accountable by measuring our results to ensure that we make sustainable progress. Our plans will focus on five key areas. One, listen. We are creating a diversity and inclusion council made up of members of our team to provide me as CEO, direct feedback on how we are doing and what we can do to improve. Two, train. We are conducting robust training on diversity and inclusion for all of our team members, including dedicated sessions with our top 200 leaders on understanding the business rationale, identifying unconscious biases, and learning how to lead open and honest conversations with our team members.

Three, address unconscious biases. We have updated our grooming, social media and hiring policies. We are also reviewing and correcting all branded names, park attractions and infrastructure that might be offensive in any way to our guests and team members. We expect our social media partners to model the same values. Four, build a diverse team. We will establish a leadership team that represents the diversity of our marketplace. We’re reviewing and updating our recruiting and talent management programs to foster more objective processes for all team members. We aspire to have a workforce that represents the population of our markets and to improve leadership representation by hiring and mentoring individuals from those groups who have been underrepresented.

Five, partner with communities. We will proactively work with minority suppliers to develop long-term alliances. We will pledge up to $5 million cumulatively in investments and ticket value by the end of 2022 toward programs dedicated to equality and the socioeconomic advancement of people of color. Our transformation initiative is an ambitious and important program. And I am confident it will reshape our business for future profitable growth and sustained value creation coming out of the COVID-19 crisis. We look forward to updating you on our progress during the third quarter earnings call.

Operator, at this point, could you please open the call for any questions.

Questions and Answers:


(Operator Instructions) Your first question comes from the line of Brett Andress with KeyBanc.

Brett AndressKeyBanc — Analyst

Hi, good morning. So you highlighted the impact of COVID cases increasing, but can you help us a little more with maybe the pacing or evolution of attendance in the parks that have been opened really for any substantive length of time? And how does that pacing defer depending on the COVID status in that region?

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Yes. Brett. Good morning. I’ll take that. So first of all, remember, we had a very phased approach on attendance. Meaning when you look at it, step one was, we tested in very small attendance levels in alignment with city and state officials. That was the first portion of the alignment of opening. Then we went to basically what was about a 25 index to the average historical peak attendance or theoretical max attendance, which again was in alignment with the city and states. Then we were ramping up to about a 50 index, roughly a 50 to 60 index to that theoretical max capacity, which was also very incumbent upon also insure social distancing. And we were on that track broadly across the entire enterprise.

Now, what I’ve seen within the last month, we’ve seen that split. We’ve seen in the certain states, that number has come down after it was ramping up very consistent with the surge. However, we’ve seen really good trends in the non-surge states. So if you look at our parks that are up north, specifically if you look at America, you’ll get a great venture, you look at St. Louis. We’ve seen really good steady numbers to include great adventure, we’ve hit max numbers that we aligned on with the local city and state, and we’re still in that phased up approach in that part and that’s, again, just the pure theme park numbers. So I do think what we’re seeing broadly is people want to get out, but they’re also being very concerned with the virus depending where it is.

So I’m very optimistic we’ll see a rebound when the health crisis subsides because we’ve seen that in our surveys. We’re surveying guests every week and what they’re telling us is when they see a flattening of the curve, they want to get out. And we also see a chunk of guests that are saying when they’re comfortable with the vaccine, they want to get out. So in the short term, we’re going to have to continue to monitor the situation on a local basis.

Brett AndressKeyBanc — Analyst

Just to follow-up on that. I think you mentioned the kind of the capacity indexes, how does that translate to attendance, I guess, is maybe as a percent of last year? Just trying to kind of disaggregate the two?

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Yes. Again, it depends by parks. As Sandeep said, we’re seeing numbers that are roughly, on average, 25 to 30 index versus prior. We’ve seen in the parks that are not surging. We’ve been getting in the mid- to high 40s fairly quickly versus prior. So I think that’s pretty solid. So roughly, we average about 50% in 2019 versus the max as a baseline, Brett, just as a parameter. But what we’ve seen in these non-surge states, we’re seeing on days we’re in the mid- to high 40s versus prior year, which I think is encouraging, given our ramp-up and our agreement with the local states and cities.

Brett AndressKeyBanc — Analyst

Thank you for that. And just one last one. I’m just curious with the guest satisfaction feedback has been in this environment, maybe what you’re learning from them and whether or not that experiences, in your mind, impacting any of the attendance levels?

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

It’s a great question, Brett. And I’ve personally been in the parks and observed this. So the — what we’re seeing is it’s consistent, meaning what the guests want is, they want more rights per day. That’s the number one item they’re zoning in on. So that’s been the first area they continued to hone in on is they want to continue to write as many coasters as they can that day, which we’re very cognizant of. The second is, although more than two-thirds of our guests absolutely agree with masks. They are telling us that when you’re down in Texas, it can be tough when it’s pretty human and hot out.

But that’s why we’ve done a lot of the right things in the parks with mass break areas and other accommodations. So I would say it’s consistent with what we’re seeing. We’re also, by the way, getting really high marks on our health standards. What we’re being told by the guests is it’s — we are best-in-class example across all business channels, OK? So we’ll — I think we’ll probably want to move on to the next question. If that’s OK, Brett.

Brett AndressKeyBanc — Analyst

Thank you. Yes. Thanks.

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

You bet. Take care.


Your next question comes from the line of Steve Wieczynski with Stifel.

Steve WieczynskiStifel — Analyst

Yeah. Hey, guys. Good morning. So first, I wanted to ask about the reservation system that that’s currently in place at your parks. And I guess the question is, how much of that reservation system really helping you guys control your cost structure? And is this something that could permanently be implemented as things go back to normal? Or do you think the potential negative reaction you would get from your customers would outweigh the benefits? And if I can add on to that question, I guess, how far in advance is your typical customer making his or her online reservation?

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Yes. How are you doing Steve? So first of all, I think what the beauty we’ve been able to accomplish in a couple of months when you think about it, Steve, is we’ve now gotten to a point. If you’re a guest, you can go from making a reservation, paying for every element, get through security and you’re never touched, right? So this — our ability to implement technology and make it work. I’ll tell you the front gate experience. I’ve heard it right from the guests, they love what we have done. Love it. Now on the reservation system, this was a big component to get cities and states very comfortable with flowing capacity and controlling capacity in the park.

Because that’s one of the beauties of us is, we’re not relying on a start and a stop time like other venues. We have also, though, seen this as an advantage to guests like they’re paying for parking online. They like the ability to reserve, and we are seeing the reservations. They’re pretty consistent with what we saw before. We’re seeing folks go a week out in others, and then we’re seeing others honestly wait until a day or two before, but that seems to be more weather dependent, Steve, where they’re gauging the weather and they’re looking at the open slots, so I think we’re going to continue to look at it. And I really like the fact how we’ve been able to pivot the technology to make this front gate experience, starting with the reservation getting the park, a much more positive time reduction process. So we are going to definitely want to keep doing this post COVID. As far as the reservation system, will continue to monitor on how it works in terms of guest satisfaction.

Steve WieczynskiStifel — Analyst

Okay. Got you. Thanks for that. And then turning to your Active Pass Base, I guess the questions around the decision to offer members the ability to pause payments. And I’m not sure if you’ll say this, but can you give us some kind of idea of how much of your Active Pass Base has elected that option? And then I think Sandeep also talked about you’ve seen an uptick in your Active Pass Base as parks have started to reopen, so maybe if you could go into a little more color around that as well, that would be helpful.

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

You bet. So first of all, our pivot and my pivot is we got to be consumer-centric on this, Steve, which was why we said — when you think about members, we wanted to give the guests the option. Option is they can pause if they’re dealing with some personal financial issues, or they can keep paying and if they keep paying, they get upgraded to the higher level and they get that extension of time. So for every month, the parks shot, they get that extension time, which has been very favorably reviewed. Because if think about it, we’ve maintained 81% of our members from the start, which I think is very positive. Specific to your question, we’ve seen roughly about a 5-point pause rate the base of members. It’s been quite small actually. People have been really excited about being able to get that upgrade with the same payment that they were making before.

Steve WieczynskiStifel — Analyst

Okay, got you. Thanks guys. Appreciate it.

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

You bet.


Your next question comes from the line of Tyler Batory with Janney Capital Market.

Tyler BatoryJanney Capital Market — Analyst

Hi. Good morning. Thank you. I wanted to follow-up on the demand side of things and attendance and what you’ve seen. In some of these non-served states, are you bumping up against your capacity limits? In other words, if there weren’t capacity limits, would attendance be even higher? In some of these markets that are performing a little bit better, how are you thinking about increasing some of those limits? And what would you have to see and how much flexibility do you have to remove those limits in the park?

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Yes. Tyler, how are you doing? So yes, this is, like I said, this is what I think is a really good positive for us. In the non-surge states, we have had days as we’ve had this phased up ramp up, scheduling lined with local city officials, we have hit max numbers, but that is temporary. And again, if you go back, we have this, what I’d call, test stage, 25% index, theoretical max capacity then get roughly to a 50 and then we’ve had the ability to go higher where we have enough usable acres. It’s very specific by park. So we are still in the non-surge states because when we look at when we opened, a lot of these parts have not even been open a month. So we’re still in that ramp up to go to the highest levels. So yes, we do have the ability to go further.

And we’ve been very clear, we’re going to continue to do that in a phased manner that gets everybody comfortable with the way we’re managing concerns around the pandemic, given our best-in-class safety standards, and we’ll continue to do that. So as far as — I think on beyond those levels, Tyler, I think a lot is just going to be where the curve is in terms of flatness in each area. And with that, how everybody gets comfortable with more of that. And then obviously, into the future, as we get closer to vaccines, I think that just creates much more opportunities for us.

Tyler BatoryJanney Capital Market — Analyst

Okay. I’ll leave it there. Thank you.

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.


Your next question comes from the line of Tim Conder with Wells Fargo Securities.

Tim ConderWells Fargo Securities — Analyst

Thank you. And gentlemen, congrats on the safety protocols, we’ve heard good feedback there, and Sandeep also good feedback from our sources of due diligence, on your background, so congrats on joining.

Sandeep ReddyExecutive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you. Thank you.

Tim ConderWells Fargo Securities — Analyst

Gentlemen, a couple of things here. First of all, maybe housekeeping, what was the international revenue in the quarter? And then, Mike or Sandeep, whoever wants to take this, can you maybe talk about what you’re considering on the Halloween/Christmas events, the modifications there? And any timetable for decisions on those?

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Tim hi and thanks for the accolades. Real quick, I do — I will tell you this, Tim, and I want everybody to hear this. I’ve had governors and reopening task force tell us our safety standards are best-in-class. They’ve been lifting and shifting them across multiple industries. And we were very data-focused from day one, both as an industry and a Six Flags, which I think has been very powerful for the industry. Let me take the latter part of your question, Tim. As far as Fright Fest and Holiday in the Park, what we’re doing here, Tim, is we’re looking at it. And there’s going to be its really, for me, three decision trees on this.

Number one is safety. And we’re continuing to talk to medical experts on what we’re comfortable with from a safety of guests and team members, as we execute. The second is we want to make sure we’re cash flow positive, in anything we do around that. And then third, I’m being very watchful of the brand reputation, especially around Fright Fest. And I want to make sure we don’t disappoint guests. We’re in the middle of that. We’re working through it. Over the next few weeks, we’ll finalize that. But we are planning to have something out there that excites families. And our guests to get out there and come to the parks, during that time period. As far as international, Sandeep, did you want to take that? I know.

Sandeep ReddyExecutive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Sure. Sure. Sure.

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Go ahead.

Sandeep ReddyExecutive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. Yeah. So I think, Tim, to celebrate — if you go back to what we said since the beginning of the year, a lot of the international revenue was not expected to come through this year compared to 2019, because of Dubai and China relationship is basically being wound down.

And what we’ve said previously is there’s one part that’s basically in progress right now, in Saudi Arabia. And typically, for new POX pre-opening, we run between $5 million and $10 million EBITDA, on an annual basis. And so, we’re not going to get into too much specifics on this, because the numbers become less and less material to the total business. But that’s pretty much a good estimate for you.

Tim ConderWells Fargo Securities — Analyst

Okay. Okay. And just a follow-up on the Fright Fest Holiday in the Park, again, maybe the decisions that Disney and Universal have done versus yourselves and a couple of your other regional competitors, have not really made a firm decision exactly what you’re going to do yet. But you’ve outlined your sort of benchmarks.

Maybe are they taking — is that just because where they’re located, do you think, Mike, versus where, obviously, you guys have more diversity there? And then, I guess as follow-on to that just the plans on — you said whether or not you open some of the parks that remain closed, just any thoughts there. Obviously, as we get deeper here in Q3, the probability would decrease, I would suspect there.

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Tim, I’ll comment on us around Fright Fest. I think this is really the advantage. One of the advantages, we have at Six Flags in our attraction, the great thing and I think this is a huge positive of COVID, we’re not reliant on hotel or airfare. So as long as we can operate the parks and operate them cash flow positive, and you see a flattening the curve, I think we can get great pent-up demand and we’re prepared to capture that with our team members that are working, and we have not furloughed our full-time folks.

So I think that has and will be an advantage for us, given the way we’re spread out and we’re very regionally diverse, which we talked about. And so as far as we’re concerned is that’s a good advantage. And as long as we can keep running the parks, cash flow positive, we’re going to keep running the park’s cash flow positive, which would include Fright Fest and Holiday in the Park and we’ll make a local decision to them. These are very local decisions based on where COVID is and the dynamics in that market.

So I think that principle will stay there. And anyway, that’s how we’re thinking about it, Tim. Was there another — sorry, Tim, was there another part of the question? I think that was it.

Tim ConderWells Fargo Securities — Analyst

I think that feeds in both the Fright Fest and Holiday in the Park as well as the additional park opening. Thank you.

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Yes. You bet. Thanks.


Your next question comes from the line of Paul Golding with Macquarie Capital.

Paul GoldingMacquarie Capital — Analyst

Thanks. Sandeep, great to meet over the phone, and appreciate the question for either Mike or Sandy. So just a little more housekeeping for me. The rollout of the tech — the mobile enablement, the social distancing enablement, where is that being booked? And what should we expect going forward? Is that going to be — is that part of the opex that we should look at? Is that more likely part of the $80 million to $90 million in capex? How should we think about that?

Sandeep ReddyExecutive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, Paul. This is Sandeep. So I’ll take that. I think in terms of the tech enablement, it is a combination of capex and opex. But for the most part, I think what we have is the costs that were built into the opex were definitely part of the quarter cash burn that we just went through in the second quarter.

And the great thing about the tech enablement is while there was cost that we incurred on the technology side, we actually were able to save on labor through some of the automation measures that we took. So there was an offsetting impact on that. And I think from a capex standpoint, it’s very minimal and it’s to the extent that we’ve incurred, it’s within the $80 million to $90 million that we’re guiding to for the year, but it’s small in relative terms. But hopefully, that gives you a bit of color on where we are on that piece in the quarter and the year

Paul GoldingMacquarie Capital — Analyst

Yeah. That’s great. I appreciate it. And then, Mike, on your transformation initiative commentary, you were talking about recapture of single day gas. So, I guess, any color you can provide on how you’re going to weigh attracting single day versus conversion of single day to members or season passes as has been the goal in the past, I would say. Any color around the strategy there and how you’re weighing that?

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

We are. And as I’ve said in the past, it’s an end. I think, again, there’s different consumer demand spaces and consumer needs that relate to our parks. So we do have what I would call light users that initially want to engage in a trial experience in our parks. That single-day ticket, they’re great guests. We want them and we should have the right value, which is a function of price and benefits to bring them in properly and responsibly. Now ideally, we want to make them loyal. And that’s why we have the Active Pass Base. And ideally, we want to show them the benefits of trading up on the right incentive curve to get into the Active Pass Base, either season pass or membership. So we’re going to continue to look at that. We’re going to be very thoughtful on our price pack architecture.

We’re going to be very thoughtful in terms of the volume price elasticity and what we think is the right value per market. But we’re going to want to continue to do both. And what I would say is go back to January, February. If you remember, we had our attendance up those first two months by 19%. And if you backed out Texas, which we had extended into attendance, I think attendance was growing 13% with our single-day tickets, up 38%. And so we know we can do this. We did it before the pandemic, and we’re learning more as we’re doing the work. So we’ll continue to navigate growing both Active Pass and single-day ticket.

Paul GoldingMacquarie Capital — Analyst

Great. Thank you both. Appreciate it.


Our next question comes from the line of James Hardiman with Wedbush Securities.

James HardimanWedbush Securities — Analyst

Good morning. Thanks for taking my call. I really appreciate all the color and transparency that you’ve given us with some of the nontraditional metrics during what’s, obviously the most nontraditional times that any of us have seen. I do want to make sure I understand a couple of the numbers that you’ve given us.

So the 25% to 30% of prior attendance levels as we move forward. That’s of the parks that are opened, right? And so as I think about companywide with 14 of the 26 parks open, is it — should I be thinking about it as maybe low to mid-teens in terms of overall attendance versus last year?

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

James, hi, it’s Mike. What I would say is what we — I wouldn’t want to project into the future, which parks will be open or not open because it’s such a fluid environment, as you said. What we gave you is just what we’re seeing today with the ranges. So right now, in the state –if you just look at July, roughly, we’ve been in that 25% to 30% versus prior on the open parks. But again, the ranges here James, like I said, you’ve got the non-surge states that have been pushing much higher than that.

And we’ve seen the last three weeks or so in the surge states where those numbers came down. And again, the — we’re seeing now improvement again back in the surge state. So I think it will be — I wouldn’t want to speculate on the future. I would just tell you that’s what’s happened so far, and we’ll continue to keep you updated as we understand what those numbers look like.

James HardimanWedbush Securities — Analyst

Okay. That’s helpful. Just to know that, that is just the open park, obviously, closed parks — there.

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Yes, sir. Sorry, that’s correct.

James HardimanWedbush Securities — Analyst

No. That’s — I think that was predictable. I just want to make it 100% clear. The $25 million per month that we talked about in the second quarter in terms of your cash drag. Obviously, that’s down from what you previously projected in a no park open scenario. I’m assuming, though, that since you had some parks opened toward the end of the quarter, as we sit here today with the parks opened that are open, I’m assuming that cash burn number is something significantly less than $25 million a month?

Sandeep ReddyExecutive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

So James, let me take that on that.

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Yes. Yes, go ahead, Sandeep.

Sandeep ReddyExecutive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yes. So I think when you look at the $25 million to $30 million cash burn rate, there’s a bit of nuances in terms of Q2. Let me walk you through Q2 and we didn’t understand what Q3 looks like. And by the way, James, before I get started, I just got to note that I said something on the dual entry on the prepared remarks, cash operating expenses decreased by $141 million or 60% in Q2. I think I said it increased, obviously, it’s not the case. But so we have a very record. So now turning to Q2 itself. Welcome. We actually went through $76 million in the quarter, which was about $25 million per month, and that was better than the $30 million to $35 million that we’ve guided to in April. And there were a few drivers to this, right?

I think the first driver was, there were lower membership cancellations in season pass refunds than we were anticipating, which is a very good thing. I think Mike alluded to you by talking about the retention of our membership, which has been very good. In the circumstances, to only be down 19% since the beginning of the year is a very good fact that has actually helped us from a cash flow standpoint. And then second, I think the lower cash operating expenses that I talked about earlier, through very tight cost management. And all this happened while keeping very current on our payables. So I think with that, we’d be able to limit the amount of cash out was very good for us. And then turn to the point that you were just making, some parks opened up toward the end of June and/or through the month of June, some later, some earlier. And that generated some positive cash flow.

But I think in terms of relative impact on the quarter — in the second quarter, it was reasonably small. But if you roll forward and look into the back half, our burn rate is expected to be $25 million to $30 million, with similar drivers to what we saw in Q2 with one exception. We actually made cash distributions of $41 million to our partnership parks only in the back half, and that averages $7 million a month. At another way, our cash burn in the back half would have been $18 million to $23 million on average per month without the partnership on distributions. And so when you think about all of this, you basically have compared to the $30 million to $35 million that we were talking about back in April, we feel we’ve actually made a significant improvement in our cash burn rate expectations, as well what we’ve achieved in Q2. But that’s a lot of color, but I hopefully give you enough to kind of think it as into.

James HardimanWedbush Securities — Analyst

That is extremely helpful. And maybe just one last question. Are your parks generating enough cash that you only have 14 parks open now, if they were all open, but still just operating at that lower attendance rate would the cash generation be enough to offset sort of the corporate overhead piece such that maybe you could have breakeven or better EBITDA? I’m just trying to understand the path back to profitability from here.

Sandeep ReddyExecutive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Great question. Great question. So right now, in July, there are three considerations to the parks being opened, right? The first is safety, which Mike talked about extensively earlier. The second is the brand experience that we’re delivering to our customers in there. And the third is financial and it has to be a positive cash flow. If it’s not positive cash flow, it doesn’t make sense from that standpoint. So obviously, I think in the current situation, we’re more than breakeven on the parks that are open, the 14 parks are open. And we expect that we will continue to monitor this. And as long as this is the case, we will keep opening it. But remember, to the point we were making earlier, only 14 of the parks are open that covers 50% of the revenue. So the impact it’s going to have on the total company is going to be less when that’s the case.

But I think it makes economic sense to still open on these parks that are open. And then what I would say to help you with the breakeven and the layers of cash flow is remember, we’ve got to open up all the parks or a substantial number of the parks. And then to the point that we’re making on the non-surge states, you’re seeing continuing momentum on those non-surge states and so once we actually get out of the virus constructions that are there in the third states, we expect the tenant to lift over there to all that should lift our cash flows and closer to breakeven. But obviously, this is very mix dependent, depending on which parks open and which states are surge states and how that evolves over time. And I think it’s kind of dynamic to say what a breakeven point would be, because it’s a function of mix. But those are the layers you really have to think through to actually get to where we get to a breakeven level.

James HardimanWedbush Securities — Analyst

Really helpful. Thanks, Sandeep and welcome to aboard.

Sandeep ReddyExecutive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you.


Your next question comes from the line of David Katz with Jefferies.

David KatzJefferies — Analyst

Hi. Good morning, everyone. Hello, Mike, and welcome, Sanjeed. Thanks for all the information so far. We touched on this a few questions back. But Mike, I recall, we had a group discussion. I’m pretty sure it was our last week or even our last day in the office. About the CRM system that the company has that you felt was state of the art, I think, may have been how you couched it at the time. How are you — how have you started to use that, learn from that? And what remains to be captured from that CRM system? And my follow-up question is really around digital endeavors. Across all of our coverage, there’s obviously increased focus on digital marketing, digital, everything, given the circumstances. Where are you all in those efforts? And what can we expect to see and hear about?

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

David, how are you?

David KatzJefferies — Analyst

Very good.

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

So let me start with CRM, and your question is really good on digital endeavors. A big part — let me start with that. A big part of what we’re doing on transformation is to leverage technology for both the end-to-end guest experience to make it much easier for our guests to engage in our parks and to be a more effective company, meaning ways of working. I think technology is going to be an underpinning of both.

So we’re taking a very — and that’s a big part of the work we’re looking at. It’s how we do that to just make it easier to work, reduce those redundant costs and also make it easier for the guest. So I start there. Now going back to the, the top line, we are looking really hard at everything from our website, mobile apps, search engine optimization work and your point, CRM and CDP. And in terms of CRM, it’s just creating a more personalized relationship with our guests. And I don’t know, if I said, we have a good program, but we think we can make it a lot better. To me, integrating all the systems and the data points with our guests, knowing them personally allows us to create a differentiated offering with the technology.

To me, that’s going to create two things. We’re going to get more share of mind, which means we’re going to get more frequency of visit, more recruitment of new users and it allows us to get more share of wallet. When they’re in the parks, our ability to personalize and differentiate is going to get them more engaged and more attractions in the park. So that’s where we want to take this thing, which is a big part of the work we’re doing on the transformational front. And as we complete that work, we’ll unveil that more.

David KatzJefferies — Analyst

Got it. Okay. Thank you very much.

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.


Your next question comes from the line of Ben Chaiken with Credit Suisse.

Ben ChaikenCredit Suisse — Analyst

Hey, how’s it going? I guess it may be early, but for those people who have turned out, can you talk about how you’ll reengage with that customer? And for the season pass customer who will have, call it, three months or four months free next year, how are you going to sell them an extension of that pass, so to speak? Thanks.

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Ben, hi. How are you doing? So we are staying very actively engaged with all of our members. So we’re — we still have our newsletters going to them. We do direct emails to them. We have a relationship with them, and they know that they can unpause when they feel good about their individual credit situation. So what we’re doing is communicating and making sure they know we’re there for them at the right time.

And by the way, they know they can do it themselves as well once they go pausing — they can unpause, so to speak. So we’ll continue to do that in the right way and the right professional way what those guests has been our policy. And we’re doing a lot of it, both email and candidly direct conversations with them. We’ve ramped up kind of what we call a fresh desk team that is reaching out to these folks as well.

Ben ChaikenCredit Suisse — Analyst

Okay. Got you. That’s helpful. And then earlier in the year, there was a discussion of $60 million in cost. It sounds like there’s going to be some cost for the transformation as well. Do you anticipate those being incremental to those three buckets highlighted earlier in the year? Or what’s the difference?

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Yes. So I think let me start with the three buckets. Ben, because if you go back, there was a bucket of investment in the parks opex. There was a bucket of bonus. There was a bucket of, let’s call it, labor headwinds. I would say that we’re not — we feel really good that, that $20 million bucket of labor headwinds that was before COVID between complexity and wage. We feel less concerned about that, much less concerned about that as we’ve been doing things.

Obviously, as we move forward, we want to put bonuses back into the business. And I do think we’re going to want to continue to invest. What I would then say is I think everybody’s got to look at this holistically. As we go through the transformation work, which really is about emerging stronger on the other side of the pandemic, fundamentally, the work is about getting back to that base business issue. When you think about it, it’s making sure we have a good, robust top-line growth and that we’re taking out costs that fuel future sustainable growth, both in the bottom-line and the top-line.

So there’s going to be cost efficiencies and take out work there as well as what we can invest in the top-line. So as we put all that together, as we do this work, Ben, we will be very clear on what the push and pulls are, especially what are the spends, what are the returns and what are the payback timings of that.

Ben ChaikenCredit Suisse — Analyst

Got you. Appreciate it. Thanks.

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Thank you.


Your next question comes from the line of Mike Swartz with SunTrust.

Mike SwartzSunTrust — Analyst

Hey. Good morning, guys. I just a follow-up on the prior question, ask it a different way. Sandeep, I think you said that the $25 million to $30 million in monthly cash burn going forward does include costs related to the transformation. When you outlined that 30 to 35 back in April, did that number also include costs related to the transformation?

Sandeep ReddyExecutive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

So Michael, let me take that. I would say that, for sure, this includes the cash bond for the back half includes the transformation cost that we expect to incur during the back half of the year. But to Mike’s point, I think we’re not going to get it — we basically don’t have a specific number right now that we want to get into until the work actually continues to develop.

So back in April when we actually came up with a 30 to 35, there was probably even less clarity on exactly where that number was going to be. So there was probably some high-level estimate. But not as clear as we are, because we’ve already incurred some money in the second quarter, $6 million that we talked about, and we do expect to incur some more. But it’s always a cash burn number.

Mike SwartzSunTrust — Analyst

Okay. Perfect. Thank you. And then, Mike, just as you look at early days here with the park reopening, the 14 parks reopenings, maybe talk about the guest demographic? Or I think, historically, you’ve said the vast majority of your guests come within a couple of hundred mile radius of the parks. Have you seen that change in the past month or so, maybe relative to what you’ve seen historically?

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. So it’s a really good question, Mike. So we — I’ll tell you, all the metrics broadly are very consistent. We’ve looked at everything from mix of tickets, time in the park, kind of the mix of all sorts of things. And what we’re seeing is, it’s really consistent, OK?

So it sort of all boats rise or kind of drop dependent on the surge. We’re not seeing anything material, where they’re coming from, whether they’re a member, single-day ticket, how long they’re in the park, there are visitation rates. It’s very consistent with what we saw before COVID is the headline. We’ve been spending a lot of time looking at this.

Mike SwartzSunTrust — Analyst

Okay, great. Thank you.


Your next question comes from the line of Ryan Sundby with William Blair.

Ryan SundbyWilliam Blair — Analyst

Yeah. Hi. Good morning and thanks for taking my questions. Welcome aboard, Sandeep.

Sandeep ReddyExecutive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you.

Ryan SundbyWilliam Blair — Analyst

Mike, I think we can all understand the pressure on the in-park spending during the quarter, just given the limited opportunities that the Safari Drive-Thru and the volume — and the attendance volume that accounted for. But with more traditional parks reopening in the past month, can you maybe talk about what you’re seeing in terms of in-park spending with a more comparable base of parks now open?

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. As far as — yeah, I just want to make sure I understand your specific question, meaning changes versus before or dynamics in terms of what are being bought in the parks?

Ryan SundbyWilliam Blair — Analyst

Yeah. More so — I mean, just the pressure on the end per cap we saw.

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

I got it. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Ryan SundbyWilliam Blair — Analyst

Clearly, it was impacted by the safari but.

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, yeah.

Ryan SundbyWilliam Blair — Analyst

Just want to get your — yeah. Okay.

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

I understand the question. Yeah, I’m going to give you the answer excluding safari. No, the in-park spending is good. This is consistent with the prior question. We are seeing good trends. And by the way, one of them, as we’ve been introducing mobile ordering, one positive we’re seeing of it is we’re getting an increase in transaction size where we’ve employed it, which is very positive. We’re seeing a definite uptick, which has been one of the nice things we’ve been testing during this pandemic is how that works. And we’re seeing a nice uptick in transaction size per order.

So, actually, I like what I’m seeing. We’re also, by the way, seeing good pull-through on masks. People are spending in the retail shops. People are spending with food, especially, by the way, because remember, when they’re getting food, they’re also getting a mask break. So I’ve seen this myself, and we’re seeing in the numbers. When people are in the parks, they want to spend money. They want to engage. It’s been good.

Ryan SundbyWilliam Blair — Analyst

That’s great to hear. And then, Mike or Sandeep, I guess, how should we think about that deferred membership revenue piece that kind of moved out of the quarter going forward? Should this grow as more members roll off that first year? Or as more parks come online, should we see the impact shrink going forward? Just trying to understand those two parts.

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Great question. Sandeep, why don’t you take that, because I think it’s important everybody understands. That’s a really good question. Go ahead.

Sandeep ReddyExecutive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

No. I think, it’s a really important and frankly, there’s a little complexity of moving parts on this. So bear with me, because it’s going to be a bit detailed. So to start with, I think, deferred revenue in the quarter when you actually look across the big components, there’s about $29 million between season pass and membership and in-park dining. And in addition to that, we also had some deferrals on corporate sponsorship. And in total, it is about $35 billion across everything.

So let me walk you through four components, because I think there’s four components that have discrete impacts. The first will be season pass. The second will be membership within the 12-month period. The third will be membership 13-plus, and the fourth will be sponsorship. So on the season pass, we — you see the cash upfront. So cash impact is needed. And on the normal circumstances, revenues deferred based on visitation history. However, because of the pandemic for parks not operating, we’ve provided day-to-day extensions into 2021 and the revenue will be recognized through 2021 based on historical visitation. Now number two was membership within the 12-month period. Here, cash is received monthly. And here, revenue normally gets deferred based on historical visits.

But for parts not operating, we’ve offered month-to-month extensions when the member’s home park is closed. And here, too, the revenue will be recognized based on historical visitation. But while members are paying if the parks are closed, we’re giving them tier upgrades and also the option to pause, like we talked about earlier. And the complex spot is really membership 13 plus. People have passed these 12 months. Here, cash is received monthly and revenue normally would be recognized on receipt. But in this pandemic situation, where parks are operating, we’re offering month-to-month extensions for the month the member’s home park is closed. These extra months will be recognized once the membership ends or is canceled and the months actually utilized.

And number four is sponsorship. And here, a lot of the cash we received from our corporate sponsors prior to the pandemic. But because the parks were close for the most part during the second quarter, the revenue has been deferred and will be recognized once the parks reopen and start operating, so that the corporate sponsors avail the benefits that referring for. So that’s really a bit of a long-winded answer to your question. But I think as the pandemic rolls on, this is the approach we’re taking to defer revenue. And you know what the triggers now are to recognize the revenue. I hope that answers your question, Ryan?

Ryan SundbyWilliam Blair — Analyst

Yes. That’s helpful. Thank you.


And ladies and gentlemen, we have reached the allotted time for questions. I’ll turn it back over to our speakers for closing remarks.

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, everybody, for joining our call. And more importantly, for your continued support. We will continue to focus on emerging stronger post the pandemic. Please take care, and please be safe. Thank you once again.


(Operator Closing Remarks).

Duration: 70 minutes

Call participants:

Stephen PurtellSenior Vice President, Investor Relations and Treasurer

Mike SpanosPresident and Chief Executive Officer

Sandeep ReddyExecutive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Brett AndressKeyBanc — Analyst

Steve WieczynskiStifel — Analyst

Tyler BatoryJanney Capital Market — Analyst

Tim ConderWells Fargo Securities — Analyst

Paul GoldingMacquarie Capital — Analyst

James HardimanWedbush Securities — Analyst

David KatzJefferies — Analyst

Ben ChaikenCredit Suisse — Analyst

Mike SwartzSunTrust — Analyst

Ryan SundbyWilliam Blair — Analyst

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Capturing the entertainment proclivities of racing fans



Simon Fraser, XB Net: Capturing the entertainment proclivities of racing fans

Simon Fraser, XB Net: Capturing the entertainment proclivities of racing fans
Image Source: XB Net

Simon fraser, Senior Vice President of International at XB Net, discusses how XB Net is taking the sting out of protracted integration processes for sportsbook operators.

Backed by 1/ST Technology, Fraser walks us through the ways that XB Net is helping bettors to engage in all aspects of horse racing, before explaining how the company plans to use the Breeders’ Cup to broaden North American racing’s international reach.

SBC Americas: For those that might not know, can you tell us a little bit about XB Net? What’s the story behind the company and which markets are you targeting?

SF: XB Net provides a comprehensive North American racing service to international gaming operators across both fixed-odds and pool betting. The service covers the popular codes of thoroughbred, quarter-horse, harness and greyhound racing. Our key markets currently include the UK, Ireland, France, Italy, Turkey, Australia and New Zealand.

We manage the rights and distribute this premium content (data, odds, live broadcast and video streaming) on behalf of a broad progressive portfolio of global partners, allowing them to deploy ground-breaking technologies to attract and educate new audiences.

We’re lucky enough to be backed by a true powerhouse in 1/ST Group, whose consumer-facing brand forms a world-class technology, entertainment, and real estate development company with thoroughbred horse racing wagering at its heart – anchored by best-in-breed horse racing operations at the company’s premier racetracks, including (to name but a few): Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park – home of the Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series; Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course – site of the legendary Preakness Stakes.

And now the stateside stage is set for this year’s flagship finale at the Breeders’ Cup World Championships (5-6 November) in Del Mar. It all represents 1/ST’s continued movement towards redefining thoroughbred horse racing for a modern audience, and optimizing the ecosystem that drives it.

As a result, we can draw from an unrivalled network of over 60 North American tracks which account for over 75% of U.S. racing, opening the door to many of the planet’s most prestigious horse races.

SBC Americas: How is XB Net ensuring that it stands out from the competition?

SF: That aforementioned deep well of resources and racetracks isn’t a bad place to start from when you’re trying to positively delineate XB Net from the competition. And as a basic premise, we are planning to work with our partners across the globe to increase the awareness of North American horse racing, both as an exciting sport and as a high-quality betting medium.

By harnessing low-latency feeds from more than 2,500 meetings, showcasing over 25,000 races per year, North American racing is steadily accruing more global viewers and bettors, especially after a spell in which the pandemic has badly disrupted, if not decimated, so many events on the typical sporting calendar. While many of those sports have since recovered from the treatment table, North American racing – which mostly continued unaffected during the outbreak – has largely retained its enlarged audience share.

In the UK, some of that success and enduring retention can be attributed to the popular nightly pictures on Sky Sports Racing, whose friendly, informative GFN was instructive in “home-schooling” many new viewers to North American racing during the lockdowns.

Accordingly, with many heads having been turned by North American racing, the sport is now pulling up a comfortable seat in their wider entertainment choices. Particularly considering the nature of its rapid-cycling events, which conveniently fill the recreational gaps for drop-in audiences who might like a bet. Providing the right content at the right time remains so important, wherever you stick your pin on the international map.

XB Net’s steady stream of short-form premium content captures eyeballs and improves digital hang-time, allowing our partners to engage untapped audiences, deliver 24/7 horse racing, and also guard against any unforeseen impediments to the global sporting calendar.

SBC Americas: Tell us about your EasyGate™ products. How are they eliminating the complexity of North American racing?

SF: EasyGate is a breakthrough multitote technology and software architecture, providing structured race content, betting pathways and secure track video streams to our partners. Long story short, EasyGate navigates an intuitive path through the complexity of North American racing (from streaming formats to different data sources and their multivariate components), and also simplifies access to other content from other countries.

We give operators everything they need to succeed and take the sting out of protracted integration processes – just plug in and go, whatever the channel.

SBC Americas: Tote betting, and arguably horse racing in general, across the UK has had a tricky few years. How is XB Net making sure that racing is still the ‘product of choice’ for your partners?

SF: Our ability to present North American racing as a fixed-odds product allows us to take advantage of the UK market where Tote betting will always be a marginal betting product. Elsewhere, innovation around in-running betting can really allow horse racing to catch-up on any lost ground and reconsolidate its market position.

The complex variables of horse racing have meant this sport, for so long the retention backbone of many operators, hadn’t previously been able to seize the opportunities that other sports have secured with in-play. After all, nowadays, betting products must smoothly transition from pre-play to in-play, which is why operators must employ the latest trading tools and reactive in-play odds to attract modern-day audiences.

XB Net has now successfully trialed a ground-breaking feed that couples the Starting Price with the best of automated trading via Total Performance Data’s (TPD) astonishing array of consequential in-running analytics, including stride length, stride frequency and sectional timings enabled by saddle-cloth GPS tracking. These variables are accordingly harvested in-play by TPD’s machine-learning trading tools whose algorithms train themselves on race pace for precise pricing that delivers a distinct step-change in live fixed-odds wagering.

SBC Americas: How does your company help bolster revenue and support sometimes struggling traditional racetracks?

SF: I’d take issue with the word struggling. On the US side of the pond, the prize money at most tracks is very positive and betting turnover is up significantly. As a core technology in the wider arsenal of 1/ST and 1/ST Technology, XB Net is part of a broader company wide goal to sustain a successful business model while ensuring all stakeholders who work in the industry are cared for and supported.

That means delivering a fresh and holistic racing experience for the fans which captures the entertainment proclivities of every age group at the racetrack, especially the younger generation that is coming through. We are embracing this challenge and opportunity (sometimes two sides of the same coin!) at every touchpoint we have with our customers.

Just take our recent efforts with Historical Horse Racing (HHR) and how these terminals can provide workarounds for their local racetracks, increasing revenues where slots aren’t legal. As a result, HHR games can bolster revenues at traditional racetracks through direct new gaming revenue for operators who are directly tied to horse racing.

We also pay back a percentage to each host racetrack for every single wager placed, using each respective track’s historical races. This is akin to the simulcast live horse racing host-fee structures, in addition to paying horse racing industry stakeholders for the requisite historical race information data (e.g. Equibase).

At the tracks, our teams are working to modernize the horse racing experience, leveraging technology to bring an on-demand, digital experience to our customers. Ultimately, we’re targeting a growing audience looking for quick-fire action and engaging gameplay experiences driven by end-user thinking and the best interfaces that support that. Providing opportunities for consumers to engage in all aspects of horse racing – from live racetrack visits to simulcast viewing, online wagering and mobile – is the best way to grow our sport in a modern world.

SBC Americas: XB Net holds the international distribution rights for the upcoming Breeders’ Cup. In what ways is this agreement helping to broaden North American racing’s international reach?

SF: Self-evidently, our three-year contract extension with the Breeders’ Cup was a welcome endorsement of our team’s efforts over the past few years. The agreement comprises worldwide broadcast and video-streaming distribution rights from the Breeders’ Cup whose 2021 renewal, consisting of 14 Championship races and over $31 million in prize money and awards, is fast-approaching (5-6 November) at Del Mar racetrack in California next month. Del Mar is one of my favourite venues in all of sport, and its most common epithet of “where the surf meets the turf” tells you what sets it apart.

When the standard-bearer for elite North American racing selects you to further broaden the international reach of its world-class festival, you must be doing something right, and I’m pleased to say that sports fans and bettors around the globe can look forward to even more coverage of the World Championships.

You’re even seeing a suite of domestic host broadcasters (for example Sky Sports Racing and ITV in the UK) broadcasting all 14 races this year, which is ideal for growing the sport. Of course, the increasingly international make-up of these fields, bringing the best horses together from all around the world, only adds to the allure and transcendent appeal of the Breeders’ Cup for global audiences.

SBC Americas: And how will you help optimise and increase the returns to North American racing following what has undoubtedly been a challenging economic period?

SF: For us, it’s all about expanding markets and coverage, coupled with enhancements to our cutting-edge technologies. We’ve already launched in India, while we also have new Tote and fixed-odds roll-outs set for Asia and Africa.

Regarding the race tracks themselves, the more we can add to the service, the better-value our proposition will inherently become through sheer economies of scale. Again, we can return these cost advantages to the tracks. That even applies in Australia, where we’ve recently agreed a deal to add thoroughbred racing from the principal racing state of Victoria to our service which runs off the same infrastructure. We’re thrilled to be able to add more world-class contests for our partners, with the Victorian Spring Racing Carnival already capturing players’ imaginations.

As for what’s under the hood, we’re always refining and fine-tuning, despite having some of the most durable and trusted tech around. For instance, we actually just classified our pari-mutuel totalisator and fixed-odds wagering platform as a “legacy” product.

Instead, we’re replacing it with a next-gen wagering platform that will play a key role as 1/ST Technology continues to deliver on our vision to build upon the strengths of our current gambling platform while also extending its capabilities (e.g. quickly adding new bet types) – increasing speed to market, enhanced support of our customers’ needs, and unlocking the ability to efficiently onboard new consumers via verticals such as sports betting, esports, and other emerging opportunities. In short, it will allow us to react to the market with peerless agility.

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Window on Arts & Entertainment: Oct. 14, 2021 | Diversions



Window on Arts & Entertainment: Oct. 14, 2021 | Diversions

The Majesty of Rock set to perform at First Friday Seminole

SEMINOLE — The Majesty of Rock, one of Florida’s most prestigious bands, will salute the music of Journey and Styx at First Friday Seminole, on Friday, Nov. 5, 6 to 9 p.m., on the main street in front of Studio Movie Grill at Seminole City Center, 11201 Park Blvd. N., Seminole.

Sponsored by Seminole City Center and The Rotary Club of Seminole Lake, this will be the final First Friday Seminole of 2021. The event will feature a variety of Seminole City Center merchants, food, prizes, and games, as well as a special concert by The Majesty of Rock. Attendees are asked to bring their own chairs. Coolers are not allowed. Vendors other than Seminole City Center tenants are not permitted.

The Majesty of Rock features the voice of John D’Agostino, coupled with the exceptional musical talents of four equally sophisticated and experienced musicians. That combination soon propelled the group to become one of the premier Journey reverence bands of our time. The band strives to re-create the exact sounds and nuances of Journey. Their passion for authenticity and attention to detail go a long way toward ensuring that the audience feels like they’re at a real Journey concert.

While the band has enjoyed performing the music of Journey, front man John D’Agostino also loves another American super group: Styx. Turns out the rest of the band are huge Styx fans, too. So, they began adding some of Styx’s best tunes to their already expansive repertoire of Journey material.

CWP to stage ‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’


The cast and crew of the Carrollwood Players Theatre production of “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” include, front row, from left, Kaedin Cammareri, stage manager; Jason Goetluck as Spike; and Pauline Lara as Nina; and, back row, Se’a Ryan as Sonia; Stephanie Russell Krebs as Cassandra; Kenneth Grace as Vanya; Kari Velguth as Masha; and Alicia Spiegel, director.

TAMPA — Carrollwood Players Theatre will present its production of “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” by Christopher Durang, running Oct. 15-30, at the theater, 4333 Gunn Highway, Tampa.

Tickets are $24. Tickets now on sale at Performances will be Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m.; and Sundays, 2 p.m. For information, call 813-265-4000 or visit

“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play.

Middle-aged siblings Vanya and Sonia share a home, where they bicker and complain about the circumstances of their lives. When Marsha, their movie-star sister, swoops in with her new boy toy, Spike, old resentments flare up, eventually leading to threats and chaos. Contributing to the excitement are a sassy maid who can predict the future, and a lovely young aspiring actress who can’t. Audiences will discover why Durang is lauded as the master of mining the absurdities of human folly.

Presented with the support of the Arts Council of Hillsborough County and the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, this production will be directed by Alicia Spiegel.

“‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’ is not exactly a well-known show, and the title can be a bit hard to remember … but audiences won’t soon forget the hilarious storyline,” Spiegel said. “I think everyone will relate to the family/relationship dynamics in this modern comedy laced with emotional baggage and heartfelt moments.”

The cast features Kenneth Grace as Vanya, Se’a Ryan as Sonia, Kari Velguth as Marsha, Jason Goetluck as Spike, Pauline Lara as Nina, and Stephanie Russell Krebs as Cassandra.

“Our cast has been perfecting their characters for almost a year a half since we were supposed to put this show on in April 2020 before the world changed,” Spiegel continued. “Luckily, CWP has decided to put it on this season and we are very ready to entertain audiences. They will be treated to sibling rivalry, a sexy young man barely wearing anything, a clairvoyant housekeeper whose predictions can’t be trusted, and a sweet girl next door who doesn’t know what she’s in for.”

“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” is presented by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service Inc., New York.

Carrollwood Players offers a limited number of free tickets to every performance for low-income families receiving Florida SNAP benefits. For more information, visit

Syd Entel Galleries to present Borowski glass exhibition

SAFETY HARBOR — An opening reception for a new glass exhibition by the world-famous Glass Studio Borowski will take place Friday, Nov. 12, 4 to 7 p.m.; and Saturday, Nov. 13, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Syd Entel Galleries and Susan Benjamin Glass Etc., 247 Main St., Safety Harbor.

The Borowski’s “Odd Birds Walk of Fame,” a tribute to 20th century celebrities in glass, will run through Nov. 27. The show is open to the public. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For information, call 727-725-1808 or email

Borowski is one of the leading modern glass studios worldwide. Stani Jan Borowski transforms the iconic Fat Gonzo light object into the wildly successful Odd Bird Series. The Odd Bird series has continued to grow into a collection of 22 famous celebrities from the world of art, music, media and science. These hand-blown glass creations are a work of art, unique and distinctive. All are wildly imaginative with recognizable characteristics of the many famous characters, such as Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Elton John, Micheal Jackson, and Marilyn Monroe.

In addition to the Odd Bird Series, the gallery will have on hand a huge selection of work from the Borowski art objects, studio line and outdoor collection.

Cool Art Shop presents artisan holiday ornament tree

DUNEDIN — The Professional Association of Visual Artists will celebrate the upcoming holiday season with the annual Holiday Ornament Tree featuring handcrafted artisan ornaments, holiday décor, small gift items, and holiday greeting cards by various PAVA fine art and fine craft artists.

The tree is on display at The Cool Art Shop, 1240 County Road 1, Dunedin, in the Independence Plaza Square, through Thursday, Dec. 23. An open house reception will take place Friday, Oct. 15, 6 to 8 p.m., at the shop.

In addition to the Holiday Ornament Tree, The Cool Art Shop also displays and sells PAVA’s artists’ artwork which is comprised of an impressive collection of both visual and functional art for sale in both 2D and 3D mediums including painting, ceramics, photography, mixed media, drawing, pastels, sculpture, and jewelry in all price points. The artwork is rotated on a 6- to 8-week basis to keep the artwork fresh and new. Shop hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

PAVA is a nonprofit organization run by volunteer artists to serve local artisans and support the arts community in the Tampa Bay area. It provides exhibition, education and grant opportunities for its members. Additionally, PAVA supports local art centers, and is a local sponsor of the Pinellas County Regional National Scholastic Art Awards where scholarships are provided to students for art instruction. Visit

Mat Kearney concert canceled

CLEARWATER — The Mat Kearney concert scheduled at the Nancy and David Bilheimer Capitol Theatre on Wednesday, Nov. 3, has been canceled.

Ticket holders will be contacted about refunds. For more information, visit

Creative Clay virtual exhibit opens

ST. PETERSBURG — Creative Clay presents “Celebrating Disability Employment Awareness,” October’s virtual exhibit, featuring artwork by Creative Clay’s member artists who actively create, market and sell their work. The exhitib opened Oct. 9.

This new exhibit coincides with National Disability Employment Awareness Month. According to the United States Department of Labor, the theme this year is “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion,” which reflects the importance of ensuring that people with disabilities have full access to employment and community involvement during the national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Creative Clay promotes inclusion by empowering its artists to create art that is exhibited in its Good Folk Gallery, exhibited throughout the community and online, and market themselves as working artists. Many of Creative Clay’s member artists engage in training for potential employment. Creative Clay’s artists receive commission on all works sold.

NDEAM is held each October to commemorate the many and varied contributions of people with disabilities to America’s workplaces and economy. Employers, community organizations, state and local governments, advocacy groups and schools participate in celebrating NDEAM through events and activities centered around the theme of America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion.

Creative Clay’s Virtual Gallery also includes the artwork of many of Creative Clay’s member artists. All artwork is for sale through our online gallery at

St. Pete Arts Alliance awards to help young artists

ST. PETERSBURG — Awards received from the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance’s Funding Futures Program allowed 14 talented Pinellas County students to attend an arts camp this summer.

These students aspire to be musicians, actors, dancers, writers or visual artists. Creative Clay, American Stage, St. Pete MAD and others nominated creative, aspiring at-risk and/or low income students to attend their arts programs for the summer while parents of these students filled out applications showing artistic and financial need.

St. Petersburg Arts Alliance’s Funding Futures programs are dedicated to helping students nurture their creative interests and develop their expressive talent by providing funding to eligible students and connecting them to local after school arts programs or summer arts camps.

“It’s not just about the art for these students,” said Tracy Kennard, associate director of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance. “It’s about gaining confidence, understanding collaboration and feeling compassionate towards others and how the simple act of learning new artistic traits, can teach skills that are the building blocks of a promising future in any industry.”

The St. Petersburg Arts Alliance’s Funding Futures Student Award program is designed to identify and encourage talented at-risk and/or low income emerging artists, ages 10-17 in Pinellas County seeking St. Petersburg programs in the categories of dance, music, jazz, voice, theater, digital arts, photography, cinematic arts, literary or visual arts. Funding Futures is open to all talented artists regardless of ethnic, social or economic background, or ability/disability.

Major funding sources from Tampa Bay Times Employee Matching Gifts, Suncoast Credit Union Foundation, and the Jacarlene Family Foundation have helped build the Funding Futures Grant Program for the past six years. For information on supporting this program, visit

Livingston Taylor, Tom Chapin concert rescheduled

CLEARWATER — Due to a scheduling conflict, Livingston Taylor and Tom Chapin have rescheduled their concert at the Nancy and David Bilheimer Capitol Theatre.

Tickets purchased for the concert on Friday, April 1, will be honored on the new date, Sunday, April 3, at 8 p.m. Tickets, starting at $29, are on sale now. Visit

Sinbad show postponed

CLEARWATER — The Nancy and David Bilheimer Capitol Theatre recently announced stand-up comedian Sinbad has postponed his upcoming performance scheduled for Saturday, April 16, at 8 p.m.

Tickets will be honored on the new date to be announced soon. For more information, visit

Steep Canyon Rangers reschedule Capitol Theatre show

CLEARWATER — The Nancy and David Bilheimer Capitol Theatre recently announced that the Steep Canyon Rangers concert originally scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 13, at 8 p.m., has been rescheduled.

Tickets will be honored on the new date Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, at 8 p.m. Tickets, starting at $25, are on sale now. Visit

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Window on Arts & Entertainment: Oct. 7, 2021 | Diversions



Window on Arts & Entertainment: Oct. 7, 2021 | Diversions

Dunedin Wines the Blues music lineup set

DUNEDIN — The Downtown Dunedin Merchants Association recently announced the lineup for this year’s Dunedin Wines the Blues event, set for Saturday, Nov. 13, noon to 11 p.m., on Main Street in downtown Dunedin.

The 30th annual Dunedin Wines the Blues will offer attendees an opportunity to walk around the downtown area businesses, shop, eat, and browse a selection of street vendors. This year’s festival will present three stages of nonstop blues, with live music performances beginning at 2 p.m.

VIP tickets are on sale and include unlimited drinks and food as well as access to the VIP lounge area with couches, tables, stage views, big screens and VIP-only desserts and signature drinks. The VIP tent is open from 5 to 11 p.m. VIP tickets cost $125. For tickets, visit

Following is the music lineup for this year’s Dunedin Wines the Blues event:

Main Stage

  • 2 to 3:15 p.m. — Selwyn Birchwood
  • 3:45 to 5 p.m. — Beth Mckee Funky Time Band
  • 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. — Johnny Rawls Band
  • 7:15 to 8:45 p.m. — Damon Fowler
  • 9:15 to 10:45 p.m. — Vanessa Collier

West Stage

  • 2 to 3:15 p.m. — Ellie Lee Band
  • 3:45 to 5 p.m. — Steve Arvey
  • 5:30 to 7 p.m. — Alex Lopez
  • 7:30 to 9 p.m. — Sarasota Slim

East SBS Stage

  • 2 to 3:15 p.m. — Trey Wanvig
  • 3:45 to 5 p.m. — T Bone Hamilton
  • 5:30 to 7 p.m. — Brian Leneschmidt Band
  • 7:30 to 9 p.m. — Dottie Kelly Band

Performers and show times are subject to change without notice. For information, visit

Author releases new book, announces book signings

Reedy Press recently announced the release of “Tampa Bay Scavenger,” by Joshua Ginsberg.

You might think you know Tampa Bay, maybe even the weird, wonderful, and obscure parts of it, but get ready to take your exploring in an innovative and interactive new direction. With “Tampa Bay Scavenger,” you’ll embark on a gamified experience in the Tampa Bay area, complete with over three hundred clues to solve spanning seven counties.

From museums to natural wonders, historical markers, bars and restaurants, sports stadiums, and public artworks, you’re bound to discover something new and unexpected. Be the first one to solve all the riddles, take the whole family out on an adventure, or just find a creative excursion for a few hours as you unlock the hidden face of the Tampa Bay area.

Ginsberg — an author and local explorer — brings years of research and a poet’s sensibility to each of his carefully outlined quests. Follow along with the website and the #TBScavenger Facebook group for a truly interactive experience. It just might be the most elaborate and ambitious scavenger hunt that Tampa Bay has ever seen.

“Tampa Bay Scavenger” is available wherever books are sold.

Ginsberg will host several book signing events in the coming weeks. Book signings are free and open to the public. Copies of the book will be available for purchase. The author will take part in the following book signings:

  • Saturday, Oct. 9, 2 to 5 p.m., at Cueni Brewing Company, 945 Huntley Ave., Dunedin
  • Saturday, Oct. 23, 5 to 8 p.m., at Bastet Brewing, 1951 E. Adamo Drive, Tampa
  • Saturday, Oct. 30, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Clearwater Historical Society, 610 S. Fort Harrison Ave., Clearwater

Studio 1212 to launch new exhibition

DUNEDIN — An opening reception for “What a Relief” will take place Sunday, Oct. 17, noon to 3 p.m., at Studio 1212 Art Gallery, 234 Monroe St., Dunedin.

Participating artists will be on hand. Light refreshments will be served. The exhibit will run through Nov. 28. Studio 1212 is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visit the gallery’s online store at

Gulfport venue to present Amazing Acro-cats show

GULFPORT — The Amazing Acro-cats will perform four shows, running Friday through Sunday, Oct. 22-24, at the Catherine A. Hickman Theatre, 5501 27th Ave. S., Gulfport.

Performance times will be Friday, 7 p.m.; Saturday, 3 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 p.m. Tickets start at $30. Visit or

The Amazing Acro-cats — featuring Tuna and the Rock Cats — are a troupe of rescued house cats. This one-of-a-kind, two-hour long “purrformance” features talented felines roll on balls, ride skateboards, jump through hoops, and more.

The finale is the only all-cat band in the entire world: Tuna and the Rock Cats. The current band lineup features St. Clawed on guitar, Bowie on drums, Nue on keyboard, Ahi on woodblocks, Albacore on cowbell, Roux on trumpet, and Oz on saxophone. There is even a chicken named Cluck Norris rockin’ the tambourine.

Featured on the Netflix docu-series “Cat People,” Tuna and the Rock Cats have also appeared alongside Stephen Colbert on his late night show, as well as PBS and Animal Planet.

Murals coming to two Pinellas Trail tunnels

LARGO — Creative Pinellas and Pinellas County Public Works have partnered to bring four new murals by Pinellas County artists to the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail tunnels at U.S. 19 in Tarpon Springs and Alternate U.S. 19 in Palm Harbor.

The artists’ mural designs for each tunnel face have been inspired by public surveys and meetings that were part of the artist selection process that occurred this summer and revealed a community that enjoys the sunshine and outdoor life, and appreciates the scenic landscape filled with Florida native plants and wildlife. The locations for the murals were selected as part of the Pinellas County Public Works Graffiti Abatement Art Program.

“Creative Pinellas is proud to be part of this multi-mural project on the Pinellas Trail,” said Barbara St. Clair, CEO of Creative Pinellas. “It is an opportunity to not only assist in Pinellas County’s effort to combat graffiti, it also brings talented Pinellas County artists in to create pieces that will engage the trail users in a new way. The new murals will add to the identity of the Pinellas Trail as a destination location in Pinellas County.”

The Palm Harbor location, just north of Wall Springs Park, will feature Taylor Smith’s design “Wetland Herons” that includes two great blue herons with an organic color scheme meant to highlight the beauty of Florida’s coastal wetlands on the south tunnel face, while the north tunnel face design by Yhali Ilan, “Island People,” celebrates the coastal lifestyle in North Pinellas through the use of vibrant plant life, people enjoying the beaches, and water related activities.

The Tarpon Springs location, just north of Live Oak Street, will include the design “Sun Tribute” created by Daniel Barojas (a.k.a. R5, Rope5) on the west tunnel face. The design is a stylized representation of the sun, an essential part of Florida lifestyle. Ricardo Delgado’s (Reda3sb) design “Birds and Flowers” also incorporates the sun, setting into the sea, vibrant flowers and tropical birds, to celebrate nature and Florida life on the east tunnel face.

The Pinellas Trail Mural program is a partnership between Creative Pinellas and the County with goals of defeating graffiti, building excitement and interest, and fostering community beautification projects. Since the beginning of the program, local artists have completed two murals in Palm Harbor and one along the Pinellas Trail overpass in Largo.

“Extending the graffiti abatement program to the Pinellas Trail exemplifies the County’s strategic plan goals to invest in our transportation infrastructure, maximize partner relationships and support a vibrant community,” said Tom Washburn, Pinellas County Public Works Transportation Division Director. “We are pleased to partner with Creative Pinellas and the Florida Department of Transportation in this effort to improve the quality of life for our residents and visitors.”

Artists will be working over the coming weeks and through mid-October. Both locations will remain accessible for trail users while the artists work.

For information about the project, visit

Cracker Country to presents annual Tall Tales of Old Florida

TAMPA — Tall Tales of Old Florida will be presented Saturday, Oct. 23, beginning at 6:45 p.m., at Cracker Country, a living history museum found at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 U.S. Hwy. 301 N., Tampa.

Each walking tour will last 60 minutes. This event is recommended for ages 6 and older. Admission is $14 per person and includes a snack. An advance purchase price of $12 per person is available through Oct. 17. Tickets are sold in time blocks. Tickets and more information available at

Attendees will explore Tampa’s 19th century living history museum by night. Along the way, they will meet storytellers who will spin wild yarns about a few of Florida’s unexplained oddities. A little scary, a little funny and always family friendly, the Tall Tales tour is a Florida history adventure by lantern light.

Cracker Country is a living history museum that represents aspects of home life, commerce and transportation as it was in many rural Florida communities at the end of the 19th century. During the Tall Tales of Old Florida tour, “tellers” will share uniquely Florida stories about skunk apes, misbehaving trains, cow hunting giants and other legendary creatures. Guests will also enjoy a magic lantern show, featuring a turn-of-the-20th-century projection technology that led to the birth of the film industry.

Guests are invited to come early and enjoy Victorian games and activities before their tour begins. Afterward, have a complimentary snack and do some holiday shopping in the General Store.

Chic Décor & Artisan Market set

SAFETY HARBOR — The Fall Chic Décor & Artisan Market will take place Sunday, Oct. 10, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at 411 Main Street, Safety Harbor.

The Chic Décor & Artisan Market is returning to its home location in Safety Harbor.

This unique hybrid market highlights some of the best home décor artists, vintage pickers, and indie artisans in the Tampa Bay area. The Fall Chic Décor & Artisan Market will feature over 120 local décor artisans, vintage treasures, and furniture featuring assorted styles like coastal chic, farmhouse, shabby chic, cottage glam, and industrial. There also will be food vendors and live entertainment.

Parking and admission are free.

L.O.L. Surprise! Live show rescheduled

CLEARWATER — L.O.L. Surprise! Live scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 20, at Ruth Eckerd Hall, has been rescheduled.

L.O.L. Surprise! fans in Clearwater will be able to rock out in real life when the all-new hologram concert tour crisscrosses the United States and makes a stop at Ruth Eckerd Hall on Thursday, May 5, at 6 p.m. Tickets purchased for the Oct. 20 performance will be honored on the new date. Tickets, starting at $28.75, are on sale now. Visit

St. Pete Arts Alliance to present Second Saturday ArtWalk

ST. PETERSBURG — The Central Arts District, EDGE District, Grand Central District, Warehouse Arts District, Uptown Arts District and downtown Waterfront District will united to celebrate “ARTober” for the St. Petersburg Second Saturday ArtWalk, set for Saturday, Oct. 9, 5 to 9 p.m.

ArtWalk is opening night as some 40 galleries and studios premiere new works, with artists and demos on-site. It’s impossible to take in the entire ArtWalk in one night. Attendees should plan to drive, walk, or take the trolleys to visit the districts of their choice — or utilize the free Downtown Looper, which will run every 15 minutes.

To download the map and list of participants, visit

‘Legendz of the Streetz’ show rescheduled

TAMPA — Amalie Arena recently announced that the “Legendz of the Streetz” Tour has been rescheduled.

Originally set for Sunday, Oct. 17, the show will now be presented Friday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. All tickets bought will be honored for the rescheduled date. The tour will feature hip-hop heavyweights Rick Ross, Jeezy, Gucci Mane and 2 Chainz. Tickets, starting at $50, are on sale now. Visit

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