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.