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Nickelodeon pulls out of New Orleans theme park

Six Flags New Orleans sign image

Cable TV company Nickelodeon has pulled out of a deal to license its characters for use in a proposed theme park in New Orleans.

Nickelodeon signed the deal with Southern Star Amusements, the developers of the proposed park, three months ago. However, it has now pulled out citing a failure by the developer to meet its contractual obligations.

The news is the latest setback for Southern Star, which recently failed to put up a deposit required to secure a crucial $100 million government bond.

The planned Nickelodeon park would sit on the site of the former Six Flags New Orleans park, which closed following Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. The project received a boost in October when Six Flags reached an agreement with the city of New Orleans to terminate the remainder of its lease for the site.

Although a blow to New Orleans' Industrial Development Board and Mayor Ray Nagin, who had backed the project, the end of the deal does not necessarily end all hope for a new theme park in New Orleans. Both Nickelodeon and Southern Star have expressed their desire to continue with the New Orleans project - but with other partners.

For Southern Star's part, it claims it will find the money needed to secure the bond and will continue without Nickelodeon. Founder Danny Rogers said of the decision "Nickelodeon, it would have been nice to have them aboard, but at the same time the project stands on its own merits."

Nickelodeon, meanwhile, said in a prepared statement that is open to working with other developers on the project. "Nickelodeon still believes that New Orleans is a viable location for a licensed Nickelodeon-themed destination, and we remain open to exploring options for moving this project forward," according to the statement.

The total cost for redeveloping the New Orleans park has been estimated at $165 million by Southern Star. A large proportion of this would have come from the government bond scheme - set up to encourage rebuilding of Katrina-hit areas.

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