Written by Russell Meyer
Published: January 12, 2005 at 10:22 PM
First, Six Flags just got stuck with a $2.5 million tax bill on a park they no longer own. The status of three attractions- Grizzly Run, Mind Eraser, and Skyscraper- was in question; were they personal property or “real” property? Ohio Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that the attractions were “business fixtures” and subject to personal property taxes, meaning that Six Flags would owe $2,557,215 in unpaid taxes over four years (1999-2003). This ruling may also send ripples through the state which is also home to two of the largest regional theme parks in the country, Cedar Point and Kings Island. The court used a very strict interpretation of the tax law that allows businesses to declare non building structures that improve the enjoyment of the land upon which it stands as tax-free. The court stated that while the attractions contribute to the enjoyment of the land, they would not do so under a non-amusement owner. Ohio seems to think it is California or New York with this move, which could severely cripple parks in Ohio and saddle them with hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes every year. Taxes are necessary for every state and municipality, but when they get out of control, as in this case, they hinder more then they help.
In other Six Flags news, Six Flags New England petitioned its municipality for three new attractions. If approved, Six Flags will build an upcharge attraction called “Slingshot”, a spinning roller coaster (probably similar to Primeval Whirl at Animal Kingdom), and a new waterslide called “Typhoon.” The three attractions represent a significant investment to a park that is still home to one of the best roller coasters in the world, Superman: Ride of Steel, but not much else. The New England park appears to be one of the only parks outside of New Jersey that’s getting new attractions aside from waterpark improvements. However, with $2.5 million dollars that may be due soon to Ohio, plans may change.
The admission hike bug continues to scurry across the country as both Six Flags Fiesta Texas and Sea World San Antonio have announced that they will increase admission by $2 each. The Sea World move makes sense because most of the Busch parks have raised their daily admission by $2. However, the Six Flags move is somewhat perplexing. Six Flags rarely cares what other parks do when determining admission price, and they frequently try to make admissions so low that a season pass is cheaper than a daily admission at a competitor’s park. What’s also interesting is the timing of this move. Six Flags almost always determines the next year’s admission prices at the end of the previous season. So this move to match a price increase at a neighboring park is rather surprising. Perhaps this trend will spread across the country and Six Flags will actually compete instead of treading water.
It’s Good To Be The King
In what has got to be one of the most audacious legal moves of all time, long-time boxing promoter Don King has sued the Walt Disney Company for defamation of character. The filing of the lawsuit is not surprising for a gentleman who spends more time as a plaintiff then boxing promoter, but the amount of the lawsuit is. A press release from Don King pins the number at $2.5 billion. Yes, that’s BILLION with a “b,” or $2,500,000,000.00. That's more zeros than you can find at a Star Trek convention (just kidding, I'm a HUGE trekker myself). The suit is aimed at ESPN’s SportsCentury profile of the boisterous boxing promoter. King’s lawsuit cites 10 statements made by the program that defamed King’s character. I didn’t know you could defame someone whose character is about as upstanding as that of the boxers he has represented (including jailbirds Mike Tyson and Riddick Bowe). King, who spent 4 years in prison after being convicted of beating a man to death, has an unprecedented amount of nerve by filing this lawsuit. I hope this ridiculous waste of legal resources blows up in his face, and Disney files a frivolous lawsuit counterclaim. “Only in America” can Don King make such a fool of himself!