Six Flags Wants Out of New Orleans

July 5, 2006

The company that owns Six Flags New Orleans does not want to reopen the flood-ravaged eastern New Orleans theme park, but Mayor Ray Nagin said he wants to hold the company to its 75-year lease.

Six Flags Inc. has offered to pay the city $10 million to cover rent to the city and to give the city 66 acres of land the company owns next to the park. The company also is offering to give the city 20 percent of its insurance proceeds above $75 million. It is unclear how much insurance money the park will receive.

The amusement park has been closed since Hurricane Katrina. The company previously had said the park would be closed for the 2006 season but that it hoped to reopen it.

The park struggled to attract visitors even before Katrina, and Six Flags spokeswoman Wendy Goldberg said it now makes no sense to keep it open.

But Mayor Ray Nagin says that the city plans to hold the New York company to its agreement to operate the park.

“We have a pretty solid agreement with them,” Nagin said. “They’re claiming they can exercise out of it, but they’re going to have to pay us.”

The park opened in May 2000 as an economic development project for eastern New Orleans. But Jazzland Theme Park, as it was originally named, went bankrupt after just two seasons.

Six Flags bought the $135 million park at the discount price of $22 million out of bankruptcy, but even after the company installed five new rides backed by a major advertising push, the park failed to deliver financial results.

The park, its rides and buildings sat for weeks in an estimated 12 feet of brackish water and the park is on the side of the city that suffered the greatest wind damage. The park sits idle and overgrown with brush.

Meanwhile, the city is still paying off most of a $25.3 million loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to build the park.

Information from: The Times-Picayune,

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