SAN DIEGO — SeaWorld San Diego was pushed in the deep end Thursday after being handed a lawsuit by the very city in which it operates.
The legal action claims that the theme park owes $12.23 million in unpaid rent, penalties, and interest on the nearly 200-acres of city-owned property.
City attorney Mara Elliott announced the lawsuit around 11 a.m. on behalf of San Diego taxpayers who she says are owed by the corporation.
“SeaWorld owes San Diego taxpayers more than $12 million — a delinquency they acknowledged in their annual report,” Elliott stated. “Their efforts to shift their financial obligations to hard-working San Diegans is repugnant and will not be tolerated. ”
SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. earned $1.7 billion in revenue last year, according to its annual report. Elliott says the theme park must pay a minimum of $10.4 million per year, plus a 3% surcharge, under the terms of its lease agreement with the city.
“Right now my direction is to get every single dime back that is owed to the City of San Diego,” Eliott said.
The suit comes after the San Diego City Council voted in May to sue the corporation. Last month, a notice of default was sent to SeaWorld Entertainment’s CEO warning that the park would face litigation if the sum wasn’t paid by Sept. 6, the Union-Tribune reported.
FOX 5 reached out to SeaWorld for a statement regarding the matter. Theme park representatives made the following comments:
“While as a matter of policy we don’t comment on potential litigation, we have enjoyed a long relationship with the city and remain hopeful that we can resolve this matter. We have partnered with the city for nearly 60 years – conducting thousands of animal rescues, numerous recycling drives and many other events. We also have paid more than $146 million in lease payments to the City of San Diego since 2010. We appreciate all the city has done and we look forward to addressing this situation.”