Disney Should Consider Buying Animal Kingdom If Horse Wins Preakness
CNBC Sports Business Reporter
If Animal Kingdom goes on to win the Triple Crown, his stud value could hit $50 to $60 million.
But, aside from reproduction, there are other ways the horse could pay dividends: Tourism.
For years, prize horses fade off into the sunset because when their racing careers are done, they go to some farm that people never visit.
But if Animal Kingdom is the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 33 years, since Affirmed did it in 1978, a nationwide opportunity to view the horse is not only warranted, but can be seen as essential to the future business of horse racing.
So here's the big idea. If it looks like the horse has a shot at the Triple Crown, Disney needs to swoop in and be part of a team that buys it.
(Taking the risk after the Preakness obviously leads to a bigger discount compared to buying the horse after the Triple Crown has occured.)
And here's what they do with him.
They build a whole exhibit around just him and just like the premium exhibits in the zoos, they charge a special Triple Crown ticket price.
Animal Kingdom, Disney's park, draws about 10 million visitors a year.
Disney is not in the breeding business and that's truly where a Triple Crown horse will pay off, so it would have to be a limited engagement.
I could see Animal Kingdom hosting the horse for six months after the Triple Crown.
So let's, for argument sake, say that there are 5 million visitors for a half of a year. If 20 percent, which I think is conservative, buy the extra ticket for a reasonable $20, the horse grosses $20,000,000.
I have no idea what the upkeep of the horse costs as well as building something that would work — I assume it's very significant — but let's not forget that there's a greater return in that there will be some people who will come to the park to see the horse that normally wouldn't have even considered it. So you sell more general park tickets that way.
Buying a piece of the horse would also allow them to get documentary and perhaps movie rights.
Buying horses isn't a rational business, but I think contributing $10 million to buying this horse, after the Preakness, might make financial sense. After all, when will they ever have an animal that they can acquire that can truly affect attendance?
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