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Delaware North, the food and beverage concessionaire at both Qualcomm Stadium and Petco Park, is making waves again in California, in what is described as a loss of Yosemite National Park’s history.

On January 14, the National Park Service announced that, due to a legal dispute with Delaware North, it will change the historic names of some of Yosemite’s Park’s most famous landmarks. Beginning March 1, no more will visitors be able to book rooms at the 1925 Ahwahnee Hotel, get camping accommodations at Curry Village, nor view the falls from the Yosemite Lodge. Next winter’s skiers will not buy lift tickets at nearby Badger Pass Ski Area.

In the lawsuit, Delaware North claims the historic names are their firm’s intellectual property. The park attraction's new names will be changed to The Majestic Yosemite Hotel, Half Dome Village, Yosemite Valley Lodge, and the Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area.

In a published statement, Delaware North claims that during its 23-year run as the park’s concessionaire, it “maintained the registration and fully exploited the trademarks; created, used, and registered additional trademarks” in the course of promoting visitors to Yosemite. Therefore even though a new concessionaire, Aramark, was chosen, Delaware North says its past investment still has value.

Delaware North’s lawsuit claims their investment is worth $44 million. In a report published by Fox News, "the National Park Service says the names and other intellectual property are worth about $3.5 million, according to the government's response to a lawsuit that Delaware North filed with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims."

Some are saying the National Park Service rolled over too quickly on it’s history by not trying to fight Delaware North in court. Others are asking how, in 1993, did Delaware North get the naming rights to the famous properties. One former Yosemite park ranger wrote on Facebook that perhaps candidate Donald Trump is correct — “we have stupid people negotiating for the United States government.”

San Diegans might remember the 2005 battle between Delaware North and Diane Powers, then operator of numerous shops and restaurants in the Old Town State Park. Her 33-year investment and improvement of Bazaar del Mundo, in what once a dusty, run down state park, became a major destination tourist attraction. So much so that Old Town State Park became the number one most visited state park in California.

Delaware North ousted Powers with promises of large investments. Outrage from local business leaders and tourism agencies couldn’t sway even then Gov. Schwarzenegger to step in and reverse the park department’s decision.

Powers moved her Bazaar del Mundo shops to a smaller location two blocks away, and her popular Old Town restaurants; Casa Guadalajara, Casa de Pico, Casa de Bandini went through name and menu changes under Delaware North.

By 2009, Delaware North’s revenue from its Old Town operations declined 66 percent over what Powers was producing. The company fled Old Town, turning over the operation to a local restaurateur.

In 2015, Delaware North gained the concession contract for Qualcomm Stadium. According to a KPBS report, concession stand employees for the former concessionaire were told they did not have jobs and would have to be interviewed. Some had been serving in the same stands for decades. The worker’s union finally negotiated with Delaware North and the recognizable concession workers were back in their stands when the Chargers started their 2015-16 season.

Under the city’s contract with Delaware North, should the Chargers leave Qualcomm anytime soon, Delaware North will be reimbursed one million dollars for funds used in upgrading the stadium’s food service. Delaware North, based in New York, was founded in 1915 and is a family-held private company with annual revenue over $2.6 billion.

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Comments

Javajoe25 Jan. 16, 2016 @ 8:06 p.m.

I thought the place was a lot more fun when Diane Powers was running things...but, I'm under the impression that the State Parks folks wanted less Mariachi Disneylandia and something more authentico. In other words, they wanted Old Town to be more of a historical location.

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Ponzi Jan. 16, 2016 @ 9:06 p.m.

If they wanted it to be more authentic why did they leave out the public hangings, gun shootouts and native American slaves?

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Ken Harrison Jan. 20, 2016 @ 8:24 a.m.

I liked the comment someone made about also getting rid of Margaritas and serving warm goat milk.

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Ponzi Jan. 16, 2016 @ 9:07 p.m.

Delaware North is like Ace Parking, parasites.

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oskidoll Jan. 16, 2016 @ 9:20 p.m.

Delaware North totally destroyed the wonderful experience of Old Town...turned it into a dowdy and bland version of the 'old west' while running Powers' and her wildly successful operation out. Blame the administration of Gray Davis for that turn of events, as he pandered to the unions who wanted a piece of the Powers' success. Delaware North was the successor contractor and quickly and absolutely drained the park of its character.

Like many other locals, I loved the Powers' inspired Old Town ambience and enjoyed the experience with out-of-town guests, who asked to go back when they returned. So sad that the lively and colorful fiesta ambience was destroyed, as well as the dining and shopping experience (and loss of sales tax revenues too) there. I found other venues to enjoy instead.

Let's hope Delaware North loses its so-called ownership of the Yosemite names (I am surprised they don't think they also own the name 'Yosemite'). Theodore Roosevelt is surely appalled.

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monaghan Jan. 16, 2016 @ 10:28 p.m.

Delaware North claims ownership of the Ahwahnee Hotel name? Incredible and appalling. There's no question DN destroyed the charming and colorful ambiance" created by Diane Powers in Bazaar del Mundo, but as I recall Ms. Powers still paid $1 a year in rent even at the end of her very successful tenure there -- and that was ridiculous too. Bungling all around in Old Town, but the Yosemite name-grab is sacrilege.

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Bob_Hudson Jan. 17, 2016 @ 6:06 p.m.

"as I recall Ms. Powers still paid $1 a year in rent"

No she paid a percentage of her gross and 25% of ALL rent collected statewide by the Parks Department was paid by Powers.

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monaghan Jan. 17, 2016 @ 9:06 p.m.

I will accept your word for it, but your version would make the state parks people perennial dolts, which I choose to believe is not possible. Diane Powers did develop Bazaar del Mundo from a dusty little motel, but she must have made a fortune over the twenty to twenty-five years she ran the place and, at a certain point, she should have capitulated to a higher rent. Doubtless we would all be happier of she had had a viable option to review her terms.

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Bob_Hudson Jan. 19, 2016 @ 7:55 a.m.

"she should have capitulated to a higher rent. "

She paid a percentage, so every time her sales increased, the rent increased too. And, yes, the people who handled concessions for state parks at the time were dolts, but with civil service protection. Their goal was not to get the best deal for the people of California: their goal was to get rid of Diane Powers because they were jealous of her success. Delaware North was only needed to create the illusion that there was a "better" alternative than Powers, and once that trickery has served its purpose DN was allowed to do its disappearing act.

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oskidoll Jan. 19, 2016 @ 5:29 p.m.

Jealousy may have played a part, but Powers did not run a unionized operation. Unions wanted part of the Old Town action, and that is why the union-pandering Gray Davis cut the deal not to renew Powers contract for the Old Town Operation. Instead, we got Delaware North blahs and their union employees.

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Javajoe25 Jan. 17, 2016 @ 10:41 a.m.

Ponzi, Unfortunately the shoot-outs and hangings are no longer permitted, but the slavery continues in the form of wage slaves working the retail and service sectors. Some things never change.

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Ponzi Jan. 17, 2016 @ 4:44 p.m.

Agreed. A lot of wage slaves working at all of these concessions. I also used to frequent Old Town when it was colorful and fun. Now I find myself there maybe once a year. When I take the wrong off ramp.

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Javajoe25 Jan. 17, 2016 @ 7:02 p.m.

Yea, I went down there to see how things looked after the changeover and felt something was definitely missing. Seems the State Parks folks want the experience to be more "educational." Which is fine for the visiting school kids, but falls somewhat flat for a curious adult. I think the best thing to do there now is to go the Whaley House and see if you see the ghost.

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dwbat Jan. 19, 2016 @ 4:32 p.m.

The Sheriff's Museum is small but interesting.

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Visduh Jan. 18, 2016 @ 8:24 p.m.

The same federal government that cannot make a case against this power play by DN is the same government that many, many people want to run everything. The result is that we will soon, if it has not already happened, have that federal government running the entire national health care system, the entire national educational system, and all the utilities. As the federal plate gets larger, the food gets colder and less nutritious. This is a perfect example of federal malfeasance and ineptitude. Open your eyes and look at the situation!

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oskidoll Jan. 20, 2016 @ 10:39 a.m.

Jealousy may have played a part, but Powers did not run a unionized operation.

Unions wanted part of the Old Town action, and that is why the union-pandering Gray Davis cut the deal not to renew Powers contract for the Old Town Operation.

Instead, we got Delaware North blahs and their union employees.

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