New Orleans plans to sue Six Flags over closed amusement park

Posted Thursday, April 23, 2009 10:34 AM | Contributed by Chitown

Negotiations between New Orleans and Six Flags Inc. over reopening the company's hurricane-shuttered park have reached an impasse, and the city intends to sue, a top official said Wednesday. City Attorney Penya Moses-Fields said the lack of any clear plans to reopen the site and to simply make lease payments to the city is "totally unacceptable."

Read more from AP via Forbes.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009 10:56 AM

They are paying the lease so they should be able to use the land how ever they want, provided it agrees with the lease. So unless the lease says that there MUST be an operating amusement park New Orleans has no say in what they do with it.

Six Flags is not really in a position to fix the park up and reopen it. They are preparing for possible bankruptcy! Of course if the bankruptcy goes through that may open up a bunch of capitol and make a bit more sense to then go in and develop that property to either make it an income generating property again or to make it more desirable for potential buyers.

Last edited by Morté615, Thursday, April 23, 2009 10:56 AM
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Thursday, April 23, 2009 12:47 PM

Is Nagin suing everyone who moved out of the city to force them to move back and rebuild where they were before Katrina? Or I wonder if any town can file a lawsuit against a business for not having a presence in that town?

If Six Flags is somehow violating the lease, I say the city has grounds to take some kind of action. But my gut feeling is that any sort of document or agreeement drawn up by the city is as watertight as the levees along the delta.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009 1:46 PM

Obviously the hurricane was never part of the 2003 lease, and if the lease payments are actually being made, then I fail to see how a lawsuit would help their situation. Even if the city wins, what exactly will they gain? They cannot force the park to reopen, and if they are seeking "lost revenue" we all know Six Flags won't pony up that money any time soon, bankruptcy restructuring or not.

Sidenote: MegaZeph is an awesome coaster, and it's upsetting to see such a great ride go unridden for so many years. At least it hasn't been sold for scrap metal... yet.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009 2:38 PM

I don't think this article provides nearly enough information to fully understand all of the implications. I'd be really interested in learning more about this, though, if anyone had additional info.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009 8:56 PM

Here is Six Flags response to this.

http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2009/04/23/ap6331270.html

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Monday, April 27, 2009 8:57 AM

If memory serves me right, SFNO was an underperforming property before Katrina even happend. Not to mention it was a failing park when SF stepped in.

With that said, I would love to see this park reopen. The likelyhood is somewhere between slim and none, but as New Orleans rebuilds and tourists come back it would be nice to have an amusement offering in such a heavily visited city. I think this whole situation is unfortunate, for Six Flags they have a property that brings them no revenue; the state is not going to be able to collect as much in sales tax revenue; and most of all the people of New Orleans lost not only a place to get away for the day, but countless job opportunities. Granted theme park jobs are not on the high end of the pay scale, but a city that is trying to revive itself and bring people back needs everything possible, including a place to go and get away from life for a day.

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Monday, April 27, 2009 9:04 AM

I know that David Simon, co-creator of HBO's The Wire, is working on a new project based in New Orleans titled Treme. The Wire was a huge boost for the city of Baltimore, especially in terms of tourism.

It would be nice to have an open amusement park as the cities tourist count is sure to grow.

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Monday, April 27, 2009 11:22 AM

Thinking specifically about two other areas for comparison's sake - neither is "spot-on", but real-life rarely provides perfect models. One is Myrtle, with MBP and then HRP, and the other is Houston, with SFAW and Kemah. Myrtle was supporting the Pavilion at least well enough for over 50 years, almost 60...it came down with the prmoise of "future growth". Houston had a major park, and then (seemingly due more to SF corporate than to SFAW in particualr) the park went away.

Now, despite Rita, Kemah seems to be functioning well, very profitably by all accounts, as an outlying-area/touristy area outside of Houston. Given the givens, I think we might end up seeing that the 40mins from Houston to Kemah is only slightly shorter than the hour drive from Nawlins-Baton Rouge. Dixie Landing is probably going to be THE park for the area for the foreseeable future.

It's not exactly "Boardwalk Bullet", but here's a strong indication that I could be on the right track... http://www.rcdb.com/id3762.htm

Last edited by rollergator, Monday, April 27, 2009 11:23 AM
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Monday, April 27, 2009 1:23 PM

I really don't know anything about municipal laws or anything, but I can imagine that the city does have a say about abandoned property. Whether or not the lease is being paid, they still have an obligation toward keeping up the property, no?

What's the current state of the property? Is it being kept up or is SF letting it rot away and look nasty like CF is doing to GL?

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Monday, April 27, 2009 9:09 PM

It makes GL look like its ready to open tomorrow. The park is in a very bad state for the most part. They could have started doing work or cleaning up because it has been a couple years since I was down there at the park. So maybe someone who has seen it recently could say different?

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009 10:55 AM

d_port_12E said:
I know that David Simon, co-creator of HBO's The Wire, is working on a new project based in New Orleans titled Treme. The Wire was a huge boost for the city of Baltimore, especially in terms of tourism.

It would be nice to have an open amusement park as the cities tourist count is sure to grow.

You sure about that? The Wire was about crime and corruption of goverment institutions in Baltimore. I'm not sure how any of that would have led to an increase in tourism. I don't think The Sopranos sent people flocking to northern NJ.

That said, an open amusement park would be nice for the city since it would indicate New Orleans is recovering. But if the park didn't do well when things were good, I'm not sure it would do well right now.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009 5:52 PM

I guess what gripes me is that with all the clean-up and recovery efforts, how much was given to businesses and residents in the way of assistance, grants, and loans? And this one particular business is being "ordered" to open even though they're having financial difficulties of their own, with threats of a lawsuit.

Who paid to clean up the Superdome? Bourbon Street? Preservation Hall? How much assistance from outside was extended to these areas? Could you imagine Preservation Hall being told you better get this place open on your own or else? Or if the displaced jazz musicians were threatened in the same way?

The same is true across the country. Even before the massive bailouts of the past few months, think of all the business and industries that have been helped with government grants-- everything from aerospace and agriculture to zoos, everything but the amusement industry that is. I know in PA we have a pot of alphabet soup of programs designed to assist or entice businesses. But when another park closes, the reponse is "oh well, they couldn't cut it. guess there's no interest." Yet, let the owner of a sports team cry that he's having troubles and watch everyone spring into action to give him whatever he needs to make sure he stays put.

<putting soapbox away>

Last edited by RatherGoodBear, Wednesday, April 29, 2009 6:44 PM
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009 10:43 PM

How true. But at least NYC has it right. They gave hundreds of millions to the Yankees and Mets, but also have their hand in Coney Island. After all, the city did buy the B&B Carousel.

Just sayin' ;)

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009 11:16 PM

Six Flags should apologize.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009 11:31 PM

RatherGoodBear said:
But when another park closes, the reponse is "oh well, they couldn't cut it. guess there's no interest." Yet, let the owner of a sports team cry that he's having troubles and watch everyone spring into action to give hime whatever he needs to make sure he stays put.

I get what you're saying overall in that post and it's certainly worth thinking about, but this little part I quoted I had to comment on.

Wouldn't that be the community speaking out through action as to what is and isn't important to them? It's kind of like Jeff's thing where he thinks sports stadiums are an enormous waste.

Regardless of how unfair it is or one-sided it plays out, it's the will of the people at play. People in general - communities - seem to care about and put value in professional sports franchises.

It may be important to you or me or the people on these forums, but the interest of, concern about and value put on amusement parks by the general population of any given community has always been relatively low.

As for why that is, I'll leave others to speculate.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009 1:20 AM

That should be your sig, Gator. It's way too funny to leave all alone in one post.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009 9:06 AM

Lord Gonchar said:
Wouldn't that be the community speaking out through action as to what is and isn't important to them? It's kind of like Jeff's thing where he thinks sports stadiums are an enormous waste.

New Yorkers are upset over millions of tax dollars being poured into two stadiums. They didn't have a say in how that money was spent, so I'm not sure that what happens is a result of what people want. It seems to be a result of what the elected officials want, more than anything else.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009 11:02 AM

^^LK, I have to admit having a pretty good laugh posting that, but I wasn't sure if anyone would catch the joke. There's a reason they're called forum threads. :)

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009 7:21 PM

Lord Gonchar said:
I get what you're saying overall in that post and it's certainly worth thinking about, but this little part I quoted I had to comment on.

Wouldn't that be the community speaking out through action as to what is and isn't important to them? It's kind of like Jeff's thing where he thinks sports stadiums are an enormous waste.

Regardless of how unfair it is or one-sided it plays out, it's the will of the people at play. People in general - communities - seem to care about and put value in professional sports franchises.

It may be important to you or me or the people on these forums, but the interest of, concern about and value put on amusement parks by the general population of any given community has always been relatively low.

As for why that is, I'll leave others to speculate.

I think communities do care about things like theme parks. A successful major league baseball team draws around 2.5-3 million fans a season. How many parks match or exceed that number? I realize that a sports team also has hordes of fans who never attend a game in person, and sports have things like merchandising and media that any park not named Disney can only dream of.

But if we can find public money to widen roads and put in utilities when Cabela's or Wal-mart come to town, why not help out an amusement park? Every town that has a few storefronts has some kind of development agency that seeks state or federal grants to bring in money for improvements. Again, why not parks?

I've often heard that tourism is the second largest industry in the state of PA in terms of employment and revenue. So as tourist attractions, why can't govt money be used to spruce up amusement parks in our state? Even something as mundane as a new refreshment stand creates construction jobs and seasonal jobs (nothing wrong with those wither), plus increases the value of the property (more tax money).

Now why doesn't this happen? Maybe because people expect the big boys to be footing the bill for improvements in the town, not the other way around. But again, the state and counties can come up with incentives and tax breaks for businesses much larger than CF or HERCO. Maybe the smaller operators are too proud and independent to seek govt money. Maybe they think there are strings attached and some outside party will start telling them how to run their business. Perhaps the next employee the parks hire should be a grant-writer.

It would be interesting to hear someone against this idea justify why they think so. Why would someone be averse to assisting the theme park industry as opposed to the numerous industries who do receive aid to maintain or grow their businesses?

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