With more than $100 million of debt, the Grand Canyon National Park borrows $49.6 million from 88 other national parks.
The Grand Canyon National Park needs $100 million to buy down the interest Xanterra Parks & Resorts is holding in concessions. According to Xanterra, this leaseholder surrender interest has built up throughout the years for investments and improvements made in the South Rim area of the park.
By buying down the interest, park officials are hoping to make the bid for new concessions more appealing to other companies. The current 15-year contract with Xanterra expires Dec. 31, 2014, yet no other companies have come forward with a bid. By eliminating $100 million of the interest, Grand Canyon representatives are hoping to sweeten the deal and encourage other companies to act quickly.
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Eighty-eight different parks in the National Park System have stepped up to help the Grand Canyon pay off the interest. From the Statue of Liberty National Monument to Yosemite, $49.6 million has been gathered to form an open-ended loan to the Grand Canyon.
The National Park Service headquarters in Washington, D.C., is also loaning the Grand Canyon $25 million, and the park is borrowing another $25 million from its own concession franchise account. Typically, this money would be saved to help national parks with big projects, such as commercial service plans, visitor services and to support concessionaire activities.
It's unclear at this time how lending money to the Grand Canyon will impact the other parks. No officials responded to questions about the impact or how the park will manage to pay back its loans. A representative of the National Park Service did comment saying that all projects that have been planned for fiscal year 2015 should not be impacted.