New Orleans is starting to remind me of one of those creepy sci-fi movies where a mad scientist keeps a severed head alive. There comes a point where continued existence really is more trouble than any possible payoffs are worth, and maybe the city’s passed it. Here’s a story describing attempts to make Six Flags keep running a theme park there:
The company that owns Six Flags New Orleans does not want to reopen the flood-ravaged eastern New Orleans theme park, and has sent a proposal to the city that would allow the amusement company to walk away from its 75-year lease, according to documents. 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 adjacent to the park as well as 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 park wasn’t doing too well even before the hurricane:
The storm, and any efforts by Six Flags to leave the area, are likely a death knell for the park, which opened in May 2000 as an economic development project for eastern New Orleans. 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.
What’s more, the city went deep into debt to get Jazzland in the first place. New Orleans is still paying that money back, and can’t afford to have the park die. So naturally,
Mayor Ray Nagin says that the city plans to hold the New York company to its agreement to operate the park. "They're not excited about coming back into the market right now. If any company is trying to figure out an exit strategy, they are," Nagin said this week in an interview at The Times-Picayune. "We have a pretty solid agreement with them (requiring them to operate the park for 75 years)."
Yeah, well, I can make a pretty solid agreement to give you a perpetual-motion machine, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be getting one.
Speaking of the New Orleans/creepy movie connection, remember last December when the news carried stories of mystery watermelons growing in places devastated by Katrina? Every story carried the same photo of the same bulbous green melon cut down the middle to show its fleshy pink inside. Am I the only one who got a momentary body-snatcher/pod-people vibe from the thought of these things growing wild in the storm-ravaged streets?
Possible get-rich-quick opportunity: I don’t know when the next hurricane will hit New Orleans. But if you think you do, you can now bet on it.