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UPDATE: IALEI Sheds More Light On Possible Merger

Posted On: 3/23/2009

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Coin-Op, Coin-Operated, Vending, Family Entertainment, FEC, FECs, Amusements, International Association for the Leisure and Entertainment Industry, International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, IALEI, IAAPA, AAMA, AMOA, Fun Expo, Amusement Showcase International

HERSHEY, PA -- A merger of the family entertainment center association and the larger parks association would ultimately lead to IALEI's being absorbed into the FEC committee of IAAPA, said IALEI chairwoman Dorothy Lewis and immediate past-chairman Richard Sanfilippo. The two leaders of the International Association for the Leisure and Entertainment Industry on Friday provided additional details about their association's potential merger with the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.

IALEI's membership will vote on the proposed merger in May. That membership body and IAAPA's board must both approve any merger before it can take effect.

Lewis denied reports that IALEI's executive committee voted separately on the merger question or that this vote resulted in an evenly split tally with then-chairman Sanfilippo casting the tie-breaking ballot. She termed this report "incorrect." All voting was done by secret ballot and by the entire board, not just the executive committee, she said, adding: "We have no knowledge as to who voted for what."

IALEI's board is united in support of the merger, Lewis said. "At this point our full board of directors is strongly recommending that a merger with IAAPA is clearly in the best interest of the FEC industry," the chairperson told VT. IAAPA president and chief executive Charlie Bray said the merger idea was a "unique opportunity" and a "natural combination."

Lewis said a merger would allow IALEI to focus on providing member benefits rather than a fight for survival. "IALEI is no different than other businesses that are being challenged by a tough economy," she said. "Our revenue stream has been affected through the decline in attendance at our trade show, a decrease in insurance program fees due to a soft market, and a decline in membership revenue for a variety of reasons (FECs going out of business, economic conditions)."

Lewis reported that two other recovery plans for the financially challenged association were considered, but rejected. One alternative was a possible merger with the American Amusement Machine Association. The second strategy involved further cuts in certain optional IALEI expenditures.

The merger has been under discussion for six months, Sanfilippo said. Lewis added that the two trade groups had previously talked in general terms about the possibility of a merger at various times over the past five years.

Lewis confirmed that such a merger would also mean "a significant number of positions in the IAAPA FEC committee would be held by IALEI members." At presstime, no information was available regarding what positions might be assumed by which members of IALEI, or by what process positions would be filled.