Southern Star signs deal for New Orleans park with Nickelodeon license

Posted Tuesday, August 18, 2009 7:27 PM | Contributed by Mamoosh

Flanked by Mayor Ray Nagin and City Councilwoman Cynthia Willard-Lewis, Nickelodeon officials today announced they plan to build a theme park at the abandoned Six Flags site in eastern New Orleans, starting this fall and opening by late 2010. In July, the Baton Rouge firm Southern Star Amusement applied for $100 million in bonds for the project. Southern Star plans to partner with Nickeodeon on the deal, with Nickelodeon lending its considerable marketing muscle to the venture. Officials from the two firms this morning sketched out a vision of a revitalized park that contains a mixture of rollercoasters and other traditional amusement-park fare with water-themed rides.

Read more from The Times-Picayune.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009 1:01 AM
LostKause's avatar

Thanks CreditWhOre. I didn't have the understanding of the subject except from tidbits on TV news.


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Wednesday, August 19, 2009 10:11 AM

My biggest concern is that no one appears to be willing to put up their own money. Southern Star wants to finance the thing by a bond offering. Nickelodeon is "lending marketing muscle" (which means "not one red cent of actual cash"). And I still don't know what any of the Southern Star principals' qualifications are. Remember, it started out looking like a bunch of kids with a website, though they now have a visible CEO. Granted, one we know very little about, but a Real Person.

Should be interesting, for sure, especially to see whether or not any investors actually bite on the bond offering, but I'm going to remain very skeptical.


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Wednesday, August 19, 2009 11:42 AM

Brian Noble said:
My biggest concern is that no one appears to be willing to put up their own money. Southern Star wants to finance the thing by a bond offering. Nickelodeon is "lending marketing muscle" (which means "not one red cent of actual cash"). And I still don't know what any of the Southern Star principals' qualifications are. Remember, it started out looking like a bunch of kids with a website, though they now have a visible CEO. Granted, one we know very little about, but a Real Person.

Should be interesting, for sure, especially to see whether or not any investors actually bite on the bond offering, but I'm going to remain very skeptical.

Not unusual for Nickelodeon to only be a marketing partner (meaning a licensing agreement and probably nothing more). Seriously, if any major player was going to build a new property, it wouldn't be in New Orleans. Even if they can absorb the remaining infrastructure from SFNO (ne'e Jazzland), it's not like they're inheriting Islands of Adventure or even Holiday World. While I had fun on the Zephyr and the Mardi Gras Madness ride, I wouldn't call that park spectacular, even when it first opened, and/or after the SF investment.

It still suffers from 3 things that can't be overcome: The Louisiana heat in the daytime, and the bugs in the cooler evening. If you've never been to Houston or Nola in the heat of summer, you can't begin to comprehend how draining it can be. Add to that the unbelievably horrible employees (which won't change with new ownership, as the worker pool is still the same), and you've got yet another reason to believe this is a pipe dream.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009 6:23 PM

Actually tourism is doing really well this year. Probably the best since it has since Katrina. It's still recovering but there's definitely hope in that arena despite the national recession. They had some of the biggest conventions in the history of the city this year. Microsoft also came back for a large convention, they hadn't been to New Orleans in a while. The Superbowl is coming in 2013 as well. In 2000 they had a massive park buyout at Jazzland for the Superbowl.

But you are right in that it isn't the right audience for the park. There is an audience for the park I think, they just need to market it correctly and execute it correctly. Jazzland never got it right. Six Flags was starting to get it right before Katrina messed everything up. The concert series was very successful. To make the park succeed they just needed to find out what worked and what didn't work and make adjustments. People say oh New Orleans is just an adult oriented place. But guess what, families do live here and there's around 2 million people in the New Orleans metro area. And guess what they're not all adults they are families too...

Last edited by Cameraman, Wednesday, August 19, 2009 6:25 PM

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009 7:23 PM

needless quotation removed


Good points, but one week of tourists for Sugar Bowl, Super Bowl, Mardi Gras, JazzFest and Conventions (NOLA Convention season is October through May) won't mean squat for an amusement park that makes it's hay from May-August. The base of population from Mobile, Biloxi, Gulfort, Baton Rouge, and possibly Houston is large enough to support a regional park, but getting SFNO's carcass back to life, and somehow correcting the prior operational issues will be a significant challenge. One that this group seems ill-equipped to handle.

I hope I'm wrong.

Last edited by Jeff, Wednesday, August 19, 2009 8:04 PM
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009 8:52 PM

By the way Jazzland/SFNO was always closed or Mardi Gras, which I thought was a shame, but maybe attendance wouldn't be as good as you'd think as the parades are the main focus... But I'm just saying that conventioneers and other large gatherings were an important part of Jazzland/SFNO. Bill Gates visited SFNO in 2003 I think it was (may have been 2004) as Microsoft had a park buyout when one of their conventions was in town. It's big bucks for the park during what would normally be the off-season (November-January).

Under Southern Star's proposal, the park would be open year-round. But I suspect there would be a period of closures for maintenance and possibly days for park buyouts. There were things that worked for the park that people don't realize. Good management could definitely turn the park into a success. Having a waterpark is definitely one thing that would help make the place succeed. It needed one from day one. Blue Bayou/Dixie Landin' in Baton Rouge is always packed and really has issues coping with all the crowds at times.

Last edited by Cameraman, Wednesday, August 19, 2009 8:54 PM

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009 9:20 PM

Carrie M. said:
I'm sorry, I'm not really on my A-game this evening. What I don't understand is how this deal can be construed in a negative light for the city of New Orleans. They had a defunct property that was not going to get rebuilt. Now it will. Where's the problem?

Sometimes the comments that accompany the original article are enlightening.

The biggest issue may be that NO politics is notoriously crooked and corrupt. Development projects have been promised many times before that never materialized. I can see there being concerns about quid pro quo, or roadblocks that pop up during the process for folks that don't play the city's way. Even worse, is what if contracts get awarded to some politician's buddy or brother-in-law who does shoddy crap construction?

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Thursday, August 20, 2009 1:23 AM

I think the important thing to remember here is that this "company" is just a guy and a gal with an idea. They have no financial backing outside of the city giving them bonds (the city which by the way has declined them moving in many times). They keep their backgrounds "private" which provides them with absolutely no credibility. I find it hard to believe that 2 people with no experience in what they want to do, no financial backing, and revitalizing a property in one of the most difficult markets, could have anything but failure. Even if they had a park that was in a perfect environment where the economy is terrific, and the revitalization process didn't involve a completely destroyed property I think they would fail.

Even though there is the battle about whether the focus should be on this right now or on other things, it wouldn't hurt for the area to have successful development whatever it is. My problem is that I think that new developments that are failures would only hurt the area. This is why if this is where the focus is, success is key.

The most interesting part of this whole soap opera is the unbelievable news that Nickelodeon has allegedly aligned themselves with this "company." I don't see how a company would involve themselves with a group that has no credibility, no finances, and only a plan to develop an area that the city will not give them. It was a few weeks ago that Southern Star announced they are building a Nickelodeon theme park, and Nickelodeon responded with no they aren't. Now all of a sudden they are in business.

Anyway this will never work because my company is in works to redevelop the area into a Harry Potter theme park.We are going to have all Intamins and they are already designing the rides and we plan to open soon. The park will be paid for once I win the lottery.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009 1:45 PM
phoenixphan :-)'s avatar

Wild West World... any questions?

On a side note - Maybe they can get the former Six Flags execs to come in and run the show. Win - win for both partys, one who has no history of managing a park, and the others, who want back into the game.

Last edited by phoenixphan :-), Thursday, August 20, 2009 1:49 PM
Real men ride wood... coasters that is!
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Thursday, August 20, 2009 8:50 PM

To all those making baseless and nonsensical claims about the current population levels of new orleans, I direct you here:

http://www.gnocdc.org/RecoveryByNeighborhood/index.html

Feel free to browse the additional data available. As a new orleans resident, it's frustrating to hear absurd things like "NO is still mostly filled with homeless people and debris."

Of particular note is the comment by maXairMike that "On the other side of the river and outside the immediate downtown area it is still by accounts I've heard pretty unpopulated, and still shows signs of Katrina (debris still there, houses empty and gutted, waiting to get bulldozed or fixed). " when the GNOCDC data clearly shows that this specific area has had a 7% increase in total households since Katrina. This illustrates a common problem people have with their perception of the city-they gain their opinion of the recovery from assumptions and CNN soundbites rather than actual data sources.

Please everyone, do some actual research before pretending to be experts on the local economy.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009 11:11 PM
Jeff's avatar

Is the awesome economy the reason no one has wanted to operate a business on the Six Flags site?


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Thursday, August 20, 2009 11:38 PM

Or this rousing endorsement of the city's Commercial Real Estate:

http://www.neworleanscitybusiness.com/viewStory.cfm?recID=33832

"Kurt Weigle, Downtown Development District president and CEO, said leasing rates are not high enough to support the construction of new buildings." Even in other depressed markets, there is new construction, as there is at least demand/location, etc. Not in New Orleans.

Hey, and how about the occupancy rates of Dominion Tower, the Plaza Tower as well as Chevron Place. Oh yeah, they're at ZERO.

Sorry, I love New Orleans. I even know how to pronounce it correctly, and can name the streets in the quarter north to south, and east to west (without having to go Bastard, Saint, Bastard, Saint). However, it doesn't change the fact that the city is not going to come back. It hasn't. It won't. I wish that it would, but it's not.

The small window that existed, closed years ago.

Last edited by CreditWh0re, Thursday, August 20, 2009 11:42 PM
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Thursday, August 20, 2009 11:58 PM

Thirty-Ninety said:
To all those making baseless and nonsensical claims about the current population levels of new orleans, I direct you here:

http://www.gnocdc.org/RecoveryByNeighborhood/index.html


Please everyone, do some actual research before pretending to be experts on the local economy.

like this from the very article you quoted:

Returning homeowners continue to be a driving force in many flooded neighborhoods such as Lakeview‚ Milneburg‚ St. Anthony‚ West End‚ Pines Village‚ Plum Orchard and Filmore. In these seven neighborhoods‚ recovery surpassed the 50 percent mark this past year.

4 years later, one would expect large swaths of any city to more than 50% recovered.

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Friday, August 21, 2009 12:28 AM

Thirty-Ninety said:
Of particular note is the comment by maXairMike that "On the other side of the river and outside the immediate downtown area it is still by accounts I've heard pretty unpopulated, and still shows signs of Katrina (debris still there, houses empty and gutted, waiting to get bulldozed or fixed). " when the GNOCDC data clearly shows that this specific area has had a 7% increase in total households since Katrina. This illustrates a common problem people have with their perception of the city-they gain their opinion of the recovery from assumptions and CNN soundbites rather than actual data sources.

I don't get my info from CNN sound bites, I get the info from people that have been there to help out. In other words, people spending time in New Orleans and seeing the city for themselves and then telling me. And that +7% area you speak of, isn't the area I was referring to. Algiers Point I still consider the core of the city, despite it being on the opposite side of the river. What I was referring to were the areas of the map that still showed very low returning rates, and then over to the west, towards Gretna and that area. To me, the first-person reports tell more than numbers on paper. After all, statistics are lies, damn lies. ;)

Like CreditWh0re I want the city to succeed, I really do. But the way things have gone since Katrina, I just can't see it happening. Like I said, even 6 months after the fact what I saw looked like Katrina hit a month or less before I got there (I went to Florida in late 2004, the year multiple storms, though smaller, went through there, and I wouldn't have known anything had happened). That right there didn't give me much hope for the city.

I just really think the city is putting all of its eggs into a basket that doesn't seem to be the answer they're really looking for.


Original BlueStreak64

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