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Who owns the Kentucky Kingdom rides: Six Flags... or Kentucky?

By Robert Niles
Published: February 22, 2010 at 3:08 PM
Now this is interesting.

Apparently, the Kentucky State Fair Board has gone to court to prevent Six Flags from moving the rides at the now-closed Kentucky Kingdom theme park to other Six Flags properties.

Kentucky is claiming that the rides are "fixtures" to the land they sit on, which is owned by the State Fair Board. Therefore, they are Kentucky property, and not Six Flags'.

The state says that it can find someone else to run the park with Six Flags now out of the picture, and apparently, wants to keep the rides to make that a sweeter deal for whatever management team it hopes to lure in.

Six Flags, as one would expect, isn't buying it and has filed a countersuit against the state. (The suits are being heard in bankruptcy court in Delaware, and not in Kentucky, due to Six Flags being in Chapter 11.)

Thoughts?

Readers' Opinions

From Derek Potter on February 22, 2010 at 4:14 PM
I would think that it depends on the contract and who owns the land. The land that Kentucky Kingdom sits on is not a single parcel owned by one entity. Six Flags owns a substantial amount of the property that the park sits on, and therefore should own without question the rides and attractions sitting on their property. The map I looked at showed most of the major attractions standing on Six Flags property. Much of the waterpark sits on the fairground property, and some attractions such as the SBNO Twisted Twins cross over between both owners.

As for the land owned by the fairgrounds, the fair board doesn't exactly have a rock solid case. I can't see how these rides could be designated as fixtures, especially since it's been proven how a coaster can simply be taken apart and moved and reassembled quite easily. You can get into rules about foundation, but even that isn't clear cut, as the rides are bolted into footers. Six Flags paid for the rides they installed, and they likely took ownership of the older rides when they bought Kentucky Kingdom, and it's said that they've been paying the property taxes for the fair's land. It's like saying that the landlord owns the tenant's furniture if they break a lease and move out. The only real way they could spin it is if there is something in the broken contract, or if Six Flags is trying to get out of paying the early termination penalty using their bankruptcy as a "loophole".

It sounds to me like the fair board thinks they can get an operator in there to run the park and make money. It wouldn't be an easy task, especially if the operator has a bunch of restrictions. I wonder if they've been talking to anyone?

From Rod Whitenack on February 22, 2010 at 4:58 PM
I live 10-15 minutes drive from Kentucky Kingdom, so this story does matter to me and the people of my city who have already been hit hard with this Recession. There's nothing good that can come out of another major business closing its doors in our city. Hopefully, someone can get a good deal out of this and improve the park overall when they reopen it. However, the Fair Board has proved again and again to be extremely hard to work with and has put the screws to every company that has ever tried to operate a park within their borders. Personally, from my years of experience living in Louisville and my knowledge of the Fair Board and its practices, I wouldn't advise any company to quickly jump into bed with them.
From James Rao on February 22, 2010 at 10:01 PM
Checking out the park, the only rides of interest to me are Greezed Lightnin', the Maurer Söhne wild mouse coaster, and maybe T2. Maybe. The wooden coasters would make good kindling, and the rest of that county fair junk can be sold to the local mall. Perhaps they can retro fit some of the rides for use in their food court area?

I hate to be harsh and I hate to see any park close, but honestly, SFKK appears to be in pretty bad shape....

From Rhys Evans on February 22, 2010 at 7:04 PM
James: Greezed lightnin' is nothing to care one whit about, and neither is the wild mouse. I found T-2 to be extremely painful. The two wooden coasters really aren't all that bad! Thunder Run was the best coaster there (yet it's 1/10th the coaster Prowler or the Legend is). Chang was decent (but that's already gone?).
From 24.90.249.214 on February 22, 2010 at 7:06 PM
That would be cool. it all depends on how big the rides are. Also how big is the mall ceilings. obviously a ride like the round up or a big rollercoaster can not fit in the mall. in my other thoughts this is like New orleans all over again same exact probelm and it is NOT FARE six flags put $ into the rides and bought the rides so it is SIXFLAGS PROPERTY!!!
From Anthony Murphy on February 22, 2010 at 7:24 PM
Well Greezed Lightnin used to be at SFGA so that makes me think that SF owns the rides, however, if they have debt to pay to KY, perhaps that will be payment!
From James Rao on February 22, 2010 at 8:09 PM
I only like Greezed Lightnin' for nostalgic value. When I grew up "way back when", I used to go to Marriott's Great America in Santa Clara, CA. My first "Big Boy" coaster was called Tidal Wave, and it was the same as Greezed Lightnin'.

As for the others, I only mentioned them to be nice - they look pretty run down. Actually, the whole park looks pretty run down. Nice work, Six Flags.

From Anthony Murphy on February 22, 2010 at 9:50 PM
Well, Great America (in IL) will probably like to try to grab it! I hope the roller coasters do not get destroyed!
From Sylvain Comeau on February 22, 2010 at 10:31 PM
The state has a completely bogus argument. If Six Flags built and paid for these rides, they belong to Six Flags. "Fixtures"? Oh, please; roller coasters are not trees growing out of government land. This is just a government ripoff, and if I was the judge, I would laugh them out of court.
From Derek Potter on February 23, 2010 at 7:38 AM
I thought that Thunder Run was an ok wooden coaster. It's certainly not kindling material.

The more I read about this, the more ridiculous this lawsuit becomes. The fair board didn't pay to build the rides, didn't pay for their insurance or taxes, and didn't pay the millions to settle the lawsuit from the accident a couple of years back. They didn't make any noise when the drop tower was torn down after the accident, nor have they made noise about Twisted Twins not operating for the past few years. Now all of the sudden the rides are theirs. The former leadership at Six Flags was not a highly competent bunch when it came to growing and managing a company. However, I don't believe that they would be foolish enough to sign a contract containing any clause or stating that they would hand over millions of dollars of rides and attractions (many of which sit on their land) to the Kentucky State Fair Board when they leave.

This story, combined with some of Kentucky Kingdom's seemingly odd operating procedures (what seasonal park in their right mind closes for 2 weeks in the summer), leads me to believe that the fair board could be a difficult bunch to work with. If I'm an amusement park operator and they approach me to make something happen on that property, I'm thinking twice.

From Rod Whitenack on February 23, 2010 at 10:35 AM
The two week closure at the end of August each year was FORCED to happen by the Fair Board. They didn't want Kentucky Kingdom competing for attention and dollars with the Kentucky State Fair. The first few years, the Fair Board basically TOOK OVER Kentucky Kingodom and used it as a supplement to its own Midway, letting people in for free but charging seperate ticket fees for each ride. Even if you bought a Season Pass, you had to pay for rides seperately during the Fair. Before Six Flags took over the park, it was a small. locally owned theme park, but the Fair Board doomed that effort as well.
From Derek Potter on February 23, 2010 at 11:31 AM
My point exactly....Who would want to operate a park and deal with that kind of stuff?

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