City officials hope MGM Studios will consider two proposed theme parks, and recent meetings with interested developers are reason for optimism.
By DEEPA BHARATH
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
GARDEN GROVE City officials who attended a theme park expo in Atlanta say they remain optimistic about their meetings with MGM Studios officials at the event.
Members of the city's Economic Development department for years have been trying to bring a theme park into the 520-acre resort area on Harbor Boulevard to help bolster other businesses such as hotels, restaurants and retail.
Despite repeated failures to attract such investments, city officials came away from Atlanta last week more hopeful than ever because they had met with several interested developers, said Chet Yoshizaki, director of economic development.
"Some have said they will start putting together proposals for the theme parks right away," he said.
MGM representatives seemed impressed with the city's proposal and feasibility study, Yoshizaki said. The study identified two sites that could be developed into theme parks – the 100-acre Willowick Golf Course and 30 acres adjacent to the course, and 139 acres adjacent to the Garden Grove (22) Freeway at Harbor.
The study, released in October, says the park could attract 4.6 million people and generate about $350 million a year.
A spokesman for MGM in Los Angeles said Wednesday that his company has no immediate plan for theme parks in Southern California or elsewhere in the country.
Yoshizaki declined to name developers, but said several are interested in a movie-based theme park along the lines of Universal as well as a separate water park and aquarium.
Officials met with an architect who designed an aquarium in Atlanta who is interested in doing something similar in Garden Grove, Yoshizaki said.
City officials haven't considered the possibility of an NFL stadium at the golf course site, he said.
"It would be nice if we could have an NFL stadium," he said. "But that would be like winning the Lotto."
Officials are also talking with at least two big-brand hotels about coming into the resort area, Yoshizaki said.
City Council members are waiting and watching, said Councilman Mark Rosen.
"We've talked to MGM every year and every year they've shown interest," Rosen said. "But what's different about it this time is we also sat down with the money people – the developers."
Still, there are many hurdles to cross, Rosen said.
"We have two new council members," he said. "We just have to hope that this time, it's for real."