The Kentucky State Fair Board has started legal proceedings against Six Flags, as it tries to assert ownership of the rides at the closed Kentucky Kingdom theme park.
State officials have filed a motion with the Delaware bankruptcy court which is overseeing Six Flags' restructuring efforts, seeking an injunction to prevent the company from removing any of Kentucky Kingdom's attractions. The Fair Board claims that that the rides are considered fixtures to the state's land, which Six Flags currently leases. A pre-trial conference will consider the dispute on April 14.
Six Flags has publicly rejected the Fair Board's argument, and has even gone as far as to position trucks close to the rides to begin transporting them to its other parks. The company claims that it has been paying property taxes on the rides for the last 10 years, and that this should only have been the case if the rides were under its ownership. It has filed a countersuit, claiming that the Fair Board's lawsuit is prohibited by the bankruptcy code and seeking a restraining order to prevent the state from trying to physically claim the rides.
The dispute is complicated by the fact that the state only owns part of the land on which Kentucky Kingdom sits, with the rest being owned by Six Flags. Many of the rides sit on the Six Flags-owned land, giving the state no right to claim ownership over them. Others span both state-owned and Six Flags-owned property, further confusing the legal situation.
The dispute over the removal of rides and the land ownership situation make the Fair Board's assertion that another operator could take over the park in time for the 2010 summer season seem ambitious. The board claims to have received interest from 4 well-known theme park operators, but is unclear how a transfer of operator could proceed if Six Flags removes the rides on its property and retains ownership of much of the land the park sits on.
Six Flags announced the closure of Kentucky Kingdom last week, following a failure to agree changes to the park's lease. The Fair Board claims that Six Flags proposed that it pay no rent for the 9 remaining years on the lease - instead offering the state a cut of any potential future profits.
The company, which runs an extensive chain of parks across North America, says it intends to move many of Kentucky Kingdom's rides to those parks and to offer employees the chance to relocate.