I have received permission from John Scanlan to post his message (referred to earlier in this thread) on the Genii Forum.
Brothers and Sisters of the AMA,
These opinions are both based on my emotion and my business sense, which are in conflict with each other over this issue. I have given this so much thought in the past 36 hours; I woke up with a headache. But a much clearer head. I am tapping into my 4 years on the BOD, my many years on many committees and zillion of hours sitting with my diet coke on some stool in the Castle talking with everyone from Maria the cleaning lady to Milt. I have NO inside information from CP or the BOD. I am not connected in anyway with the BOD or Castle Partners. I have had many, many, many discussions of what if scenarios with the BOD and other members over the years. So please dont take any stock in this as it is just my opinion. If you would like to email me you may do so at firstname.lastname@example.org
If anyone wants to chat via land line, email me and I will send my telephone number.
What if CP (Castle Partners) comes up with an offer Milt "can't possibly refuse" to lease or franchise out his assets (Names, trademarks and the like) of these properties?
Can Hollywood accommodate TWO magic venue/specialty restaurants? Clearly no. Even BIG BUCKS at Wizards failed to achieve success.
If we rebuild, how long will it take, how much money will it cost? Where will we get the money? And my friends it will take a crap full of money with NO guarantees of profitability or even success for the future?
Does the current BOD have the horse power to recreate the NEW Magic Castle? (Please, no insult intended). These people are my friends who Id take a bullet for if asked. If it was not for them after Bill died, the Magic Castle would be a Dennys today.
The Magic Castle is synonymous with the Lane Mansion. To relocate it anywhere would be disastrous. What if you bought tickets to Disneyland, you get out of your car in the parking lot and the tram takes you to Knotts?
If we don't have to run the entertainment, bar and restaurant, and another professional company can, why is that a problem? In the long run, we as a club will be making a heck of a lot more money on the club side. Look at what is on the AMA financial's? No wonder the AMA looses money. LOTS of areas on the P&L will go away once we downsize. Is that such a bad thing?
Will our meat and potato members, the Associates flee the new Magic Castle in favor of a new Magic Castle?
How many magician members will still spend endless hours at the Castle, Without the AMA they will have to pay full price to get in, eat, drink and see big name talent?
Will the Pendragons opt to perform at the NEW Magic Castle for $300 a week, or the old Castle for $5,000 a week?
Has the AMA been all that successful in running the Restaurant and bar? We live hand to mouth each month with no extra money to do the medium or big projects. It is always one money problem after another. The BOD spends time talking about this problem, then 2 seconds later they talk about who is going to be the Magician of the Year. I had often thought a dual BOD would separate the business from the club was not such a bad idea. All business people running the Castle and all magicians running the club. Just like on any Cruise ship there are 2 Captains. One who runs the vessel up on the bridge and the other downstairs with the customers.
I find the entertainment take over a tad disconcerting. With little doubt the pay WILL go up for the entertainers. But The Senior Mr. Wilson has done a brilliant job in bringing us the best magicians and acts in the world. Im not critical of this end of the business and other than listening to Carney, Max and Larrys opinions I really have no idea what CP would do. I would hope Mr. Wilson would be retained in his current capacity.
If the AMA sheds the Bar and Restaurant, we could become a TRUE 501c3. We could seek and receive donations and be mentioned in wills. A true windfall as has been discussed many times by the BOD. A chunk of your membership fee will then be deductible (Consult your tax attorney).
With little doubt, CP would increase marketing dollars substantially. Buy outs on the day side would flourish. When I was on the marketing committee we tried to sell the BOD on this concept. With a strong marketing department we could make extra dollars when the Castle is closed.
Would CP allow us to keep the downstairs area for Magician Members ONLY? The classrooms, bar, library, Peller theater, etc? Dont know about you, that aspect excites me. CP could make money off the bar & finger food. Sounds like a win win to me.
CP would have to take over banquet, reservations, and much of what the current office does. More savings and more sales with a strong marketing plan. Can someone send me a copy of the current AMA Marketing Plan for 2004? No? Yea, I thought so.
What current jobs positions would work for the AMA, not the GM for sure. The GM could not manage the Restaurant and Bar as that is a CP entity. Sounds like another position would have to be created, Club Manager? What about the Hosts? As you can see this gets more and more complicated from an organizational chart perspective.
Yes, they can enlarge the Castle. Another 3 to 10K sq feet is very possible. A few years back, the Glovers were talking about building a multi level parking structure. No reason why this could not be done IN conjunction with an expanded Magic Castle. All the property between the front and back side (back stage doors, delivery area) of the Mansion to the parking structure could be used for expansion. Give Milt another 3 to 10k sq feet and bucks to work with, and I am sure him and CP would be all over the idea.
The AMA BOD would only have to concern them selves with the MAGIC side. 99% of their time and energy devoted to MAGIC. Being a 501c3 they could receive donations of antique magic and endowments. No more worries about all the stuff you guys have been complaining about for the past X years. The AMA would become a TRUE magic organization and not a Restaurant/bar and magic club.
I would love to see a pro forma financial for the AMA after the dust has settled and the finance guys on both sides have divvied up the chart of accounts.
Based on everything (and much more) that I have hypothesized here; I see this as a BIG WIN-WIN for all parties involved. Milts legacy will continue. I too believe that CP has the Castle, its history and heritage as their guiding light. I dont know who all the players are, but I know Diana, Peter and Mike. I can guess who some of the others might be. These people are MAGICIANS and MEMBERS of the AMA.
The Glovers do love the Magic Castle and everything it stands for. But the property is owned/held by a LLC of 12(?) Glovers who want a better return on their property. Why is that a problem? Yes, they love the Castle, but they want a return on their property. The CP just happens to have a plan they liked better than anything else presented. After Mrs. Glover passed away over 2 years ago, the remaining Glovers formed a LLC to manage the holdings of the Glover Estate. They took control of the fast failing Yamashiro and turned it around. It is fast becoming the giant it used to be many years ago. I just cant believe theyd (The Glover Estate LLC), would want to screw up the concept Milt and Bill had for the future. Castle Partners based on what I know of the 3 partners would NOT want to either. If Milt chooses to stick around, my guess is he might become a consultant for future enhancements to the Magic Castle. Hell, he may even have a Bronze statue somewhere on the property.
As to the hostile take over or the shady way they took control is simply business. That is the way the business world works. Like it or not. The AMA has had a couple of years to renew the lease. It was fish or cut bait time. On our current month to month lease, the Glovers could have raised the rent and percentages anytime they felt like it. Then the AMA would have been forced into a corner. I believe two and a half years is more than enough time to strike a legal agreement on a new lease. It became fish or cut bait time. I am sure CP did as someone stated here, they simply had a better idea. Yes, they do love the Castle, but there interest to SAVE the Magic Castle was less of a priority than keeping the 12 Glover partners happy.
Before any rush to judgments are made, PLEASE put your emotion aside and carefully consider the possibilities of the future of the club. The future of the Magic Castle has just been secured. Moving is not something I would support. Our dinner customers would NEVER EVER flock to the NEW and IMPROVED Magic Castle. Wed just be a bunch of old fart holdouts sitting at some bar with all the old picture of Dai nailed on the wall. Wed look out the window and see a long line of cars going down Franklin with people trying to get into the Lane Mansion Castle of Magic, LLC. Frankly I dont have another 40 years to wait for the new MC to germinate into the 8th wonder of the magic world.. I dont have 2 years to sit on my butt for the NEW Magic Castle to be built.
Diana, Peter and Michael have no experience at running a restaurant, bar and entertainment facility. They do have extensive experience in running companies. They are smart enough to know they need to hire talented professionals with credentials. They are smart enough to know this will cost money, and they are smart enough to know it will be cost effective. But they do have the ability to hire people who do. And delegation is the intelligence behind good senior management. Find the best people, give them the end results you want, then get the hell out of their way and let them do it.
Change IS good, albeit heartbreaking. I do have some other opinions but would NEVER put them in writing or share them with anyone other than proven close friends.
Simply look at CEO who is hired to run companies they have no experience in. McDonalds was a 15 cent hamburger joint when Kroc hired away from Avis its CEO some 30 years ago. I can give you another 500 examples just off the top of my head.
I fully endorse this change. I am offering my help in any way possible to facilitate a smooth change over. I am urging Milt to please think this out. Surround yourself with your family and closest of friends and talk it out. Please dont split the membership over this issue as it will cause irreparable damage to the AMA and only the AMA. The Magic Castle will still be around. More than ever in the history of the Magic Castle we need YOU to do what you can to work with CP and take our beloved Castle to new heights and into the millennium. You did a brilliant job at Ceasars creating an amazing venue. With the bucks the CP have, and your 42 years of hard work, I would be believe it would be the talk of the world.