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New firm set to run Yosemite park sites in $2B deal
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YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK (AP) — A new company has been selected to take over hotels, restaurants and outdoor activities at Yosemite National Park under the national park system’s most lucrative single contract for services, officials said Wednesday.

Aramark has been offered the 15-year contract valued at $2 billion, park spokesman Scott Gediman said. If the deal is approved, the Philadelphia-based company would replace Delaware North on March 1, the day after the old contract expires.

Delaware North has run Yosemite’s concessions since 1993. Spokeswoman Lisa Cesaro said in a statement the company is disappointed it didn’t win a renewed contract but expects a smooth transition.

“Under the new contract, we’re not expecting big changes to operations,” Gediman said. He added the change is not a reflection on the park’s relationship with Delaware North, based in New York.

The contract at the 125-year-old park was ending, and a new firm was selected in a bidding process, he said.

Aramark will manage the park’s Ahwahnee Hotel, Curry Village, Badger Pass Ski Resort, several shops, High Sierra camps and other services.

Yosemite offered the contract to Aramark before resolving a dispute over the value of the names of landmarks such as the hotel and village and a “Go Climb a Rock” logo depicting the famed Half Dome formation. Delaware North says it owns those pieces of intellectual property and estimated their value at $51 million.

Delaware North and Aramark will have to find a resolution, Gediman said.

Aramark spokesman David Freireich said the dispute will be worked out with the National Park Service and Delaware North during the transition. He declined to elaborate.

Freireich said the company plans to enhance the experience for the estimated 4 million annual visitors by expanding programs and upgrading park amenities. The details will be released in the coming months, he said.

“We’re honored, excited, elated — any superlative you can think of — to be selected by the park service,” Freireich said.

Aramark holds contracts in six other national parks, including Denali National Park & Preserve and Glacier Bay. It also manages food services and gift shops at Gettysburg National Military Park, Historic Philadelphia and the U.S. Mint. It operates in 21 countries and has 270,000 employees.

For the contract to become final, Congress has to review it before it is signed by National Park Service officials.