Friday, February 05, 2010

Bankrupt Six Flags Flees Town, Closes Park

I'm sure that by now you have read the news about the closure of the Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom amusement park. In this Courier-Journal article, Six Flags CEO Mark Shapiro whines about the cost of the lease at the fairgrounds. Shapiro also griped about not receiving a percentage of the parking fees. It should be noted that Six Flags is in bankruptcy due to the company's failed leadership, not because of an unfavorable lease agreement at the Louisville location.

Kentucky Kingdom is perhaps best known throughout the country as the place where a 13 year old girl had her feet cut off in 2007 by a ride that was improperly maintained and was being operated by a teenage employee.

Mayor Jerry Abramson said he was "shocked" by the announcement, and the convention bureau claims 10,000 nights of hotel room stays would be lost along with about 1000 seasonal, part-time, minimum-wage jobs. Contrary to what you may read, the park was not a huge part of the local economy and was not some sort of "mecca" for roller coaster enthusiasts. It will only be missed by parents who used it as a daycare program for their children.

That's the bad. Now the good:

1. Our community won't have to endure another annoying Six Flags commercial that featured that weirdo pimping the park's attractions.

2. Now that the property will be vacated, there's room for a new basketball arena for the Louisville Cardinals that provides ample parking. Oh, wait....

3. It is my opinion Kentucky Kingdom was not a good corporate citizen, if there is such a thing.

I'm sure that your family can find other entertaining, less expensive and more appealing activities to participate in this summer. Spend some quality time with your children and take them to one of the many museums or performing arts centers in Louisville.  They may even learn something.

Below is a copy of a press release from the Fair Board regarding the situation:
Statement from Harold Workman, President & CEO of the Kentucky State Fair
Board, Regarding Information Released by Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom

“Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom announced this evening that „as it nears the scheduled end of
its restructuring process, it has decided to reject its lease with the Kentucky State Fair Board
relating to the Kentucky Kingdom Park. In recent weeks, Six Flags had proposed a new lease
arrangement to the fair board that would have enhanced the viability and future of the
park. Unfortunately, those proposals were not accepted and the park will cease operations and
the company will move expeditiously to re-locate employees and several of the more than 40
rides and attractions to one of its 13 other markets.‟

The statement misrepresents what has taken place.

Approximately thirty days ago, the Kentucky State Fair Board (KSFB) reached out to Six
Flags Kentucky Kingdom (SFKK) to offer to extend the park‟s bankruptcy court-imposed
deadline of January 9, 2010 to either accept or reject its lease with the KSFB. The KSFB
initiated dialogue with SFKK in an attempt to allow the park to maintain its operations.
However, SFKK did not schedule a meeting with me until January 4, 2010, only days before
the bankruptcy court-imposed deadline. At that point the KSFB did not have any financial
information regarding the profitability of the park and only obtained that information a few
days ago.

As suggested by the KSFB, we entered into an agreement with SFKK to extend their deadline
and that agreement was approved by the bankruptcy court. The time frame for the park to
accept or reject its lease was extended by 90 days, expiring April 9, 2010. The intention was
for the parties to renegotiate the lease terms during that period.

The parties also entered into a confidentiality agreement shortly thereafter so that the KSFB
could evaluate the park's financial status in order to validate its request for a lease
modification. Representatives of SFKK had told the KSFB that the bankruptcy proceeding
would NOT affect operations and, in fact, the park was doing well.

The KSFB asked SFKK for a written proposal outlining revised lease terms on at least four
separate occasions. However, counsel for SFKK never provided a written proposal and to date
the KSFB has been reviewing financials and awaiting a proposal from SFKK that would
include the proposed terms of the modification.

Tonight‟s announcement by SFKK caught the KSFB completely by surprise. The KSFB
remains ready and willing to discuss any reasonable proposal that SFKK may put forward in
order to continue the park‟s operation.”

1 comment:

  1. Re: #3, how about everyone visiting our many, many underutilized natural parks this summer? *That's* the city's big attraction, right there.