November 17, 2021
New York, NY (November 17, 2021) – During the week of November 15th, the Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (“IAAPA”) held its annual international expo in Orlando with over 30,000 attendees. One of the conference’s panel discussions was “FEC: Real Estate and Financing Solutions for the Entertainment Industry.” Ralph Willis, Managing Partner and co-founder of EFA Partners, was invited to be on the panel along with R.J. Mohindra, Principal of FEC Real Estate, and Jerry Merola of Amusement Entertainment Management who moderated the session.
The topic for the discussion was regarding the challenges of finding the ideal blend of market demographics, real estate options, and capital sources necessary to ensure a successful long-term business strategy. The session provided the fundamentals of how to select and evaluate potential consumer markets, compare real estate options, and structure and negotiate financing solutions for leisure project development.
Mr. Willis provided color on the currently conservative lending markets and discussed various financing alternatives that could be utilized for constructing new entertainment venues or for refinancing existing venues. He mentioned that, while alternatives could involve traditional bank financing, banks are currently conservative when approached with leisure financing opportunities so other sources should be explored such as equipment financiers, specialty lenders, REITs, and others. Mr. Willis described an overview of each alternative and potential financing terms in the current environment.
EFA’s principals have over 70 years of collective experience in providing financing solutions for entertainment, and media companies. They have deep relationships with banks, equipment lessors, construction lenders, specialty finance groups, REITs, and private equity groups. The team prides itself on handling its clients’ financing processes from start to finish with a transparent, defined, and success-based process. EFA’s approach typically involves identifying a targeted list of prospective financiers which varies greatly for each client, creating comprehensive lender presentations that highlight the client and the industry, introducing lenders that were previously unknown to the client, and participating in all phases of negotiations with lenders.
“I really appreciated the invitation to be on the panel and being able to discuss the issues everyone is facing when seeking financing for leisure venues,” said Mr. Willis. “EFA’s experience ranges from early-stage start-up companies with little experience in the sector to seasoned, mature companies that have several venues. In all cases, whether construction financing for a new venue or refinancing an existing one, the lending environment continues to evolve so it’s important for owner/operators to understand that latest developments in the capital markets.”
About EFA Partners
EFA Partners is a boutique financial advisory firm with offices in New York and Atlanta. It provides investment banking services focused on arranging growth capital, mergers and acquisitions, and financial consulting services. Its targeted sectors include family entertainment centers, movie theaters, theme parks, water parks, casinos, film and media service companies, communications service companies, concert venues, music, hospitality, observation wheels and decks, sports, and others. Since its inception in 2009, EFA has been retained by over 170 clients, have arranged over $1.5 billion of capital and have advised on over $3 billion of additional capital.