Ride May Be Over For Libertyland

Libertyland's executive officers have recommended closing the amusement park that once thrilled Elvis Presley and his entourage but in recent years has become a financial drain. The closing could become official today when the board of directors and certificate holders meet to vote. "We've been losing money for several years," Rick Winchester, board president and an executive officer, said Wednesday. "I think the only way we could really turn it around was to put capital improvement dollars into a new ride or rides. And that's something we can't do because of where we are with our lease." A week before his death, Elvis rents Libertyland for a night and rides his favorite coaster, the Zippin Pippin, nonstop.
Source: Google / Updated: Nov 3, 2005 
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jessy (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 3, 2005report abuse
I was in Memphis in oct 2004 but Libertyland was closed in october so I want to go back to Memphis and go in Elvis' favorite coaster!!!So please do the best you can and stay open!!!
Teacher (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 3, 2005report abuse
From the Nov.3 Commercial Appeal:

Libertyland's executive officers have recommended closing the amusement park that once thrilled Elvis Presley but in recent years has become a financial drain.

The closing could become official today when the board of directors and certificate holders meet to vote.

It isn't known how many workers could lose their jobs. The park and the Mid-South Fair -- which is slated to continue -- have about 40 employees combined, with some overlap.

"We've been losing money for several years," Rick Winchester, board president and an executive officer, said Wednesday. "I think the only way we could really turn it around was to put capital improvement dollars into a new ride or rides. And that's something we can't do because of where we are with our lease."

The nonprofit that operates Libertyland and the fair has a year-to-year agreement with the city for the Mid-South Fairgrounds.

A committee, working on behalf of both governments, is studying the future of the Fairgrounds -- a future that won't necessarily include the fair.

Committee consultant Looney Ricks Kiss will present its fairgrounds re-use report to the committee today.

Despite the uncertainty, Winchester said the fair is on schedule to return in 2006.

"The focus of the fair right now is full speed ahead for our 150th anniversary, which we think is going to be bigger and better than ever," he said. "Where we go beyond that is something we may know more about (today)."

Earlier this year, Pete Aviotti -- committee member and special assistant to Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton -- suggested that fair and park officials begin looking for a new location. Aviotti said he wasn't speaking for the mayor or the committee.

Winchester made an apparent nod to Aviotti's comment on Wednesday when he said, "With the lack of support from the city, and the suggestion that we need to start shutting down, anyway -- that had a lot to do with the recommendation (to close)."

Committee chairman Cato Johnson declined to comment on the park's probable closing. "We will reserve judgment until there's definitive action taken by the (fair and park) board," he said.

The park, which opened on July 4, 1976, has struggled through a string of money-losing years -- including perhaps $500,000 this year, Winchester said.

He said the park has stayed open in recent years, despite the financial struggles, because "we felt like it was doing a lot of good for the community and giving a lot of young people summer jobs, and providing a safe, clean, healthy place for people to go."

Winchester said it was his understanding that employees were briefed about the status of the park.

"It hurts," he said. "We think that we have been doing an awful lot of good for young Memphians (hired for summer work)."

-- David Williams: 529-2310

LIBERTYLAND'S HISTORY

1971: A local theme park is proposed to the Memphis and Shelby County governments.

1974: The contract for Libertyland is signed, giving the Mid-South Fair lease of city property to build on the old Fairgrounds Amusement Park.

1976: Libertyland opens on America's Bicentennial.

1977: A week before his death, Elvis rents Libertyland for a night and rides his favorite coaster, the Zippin Pippin, nonstop.

1979: The Revolution, a corkscrew steel coaster, is built.

1995: The Kamikaze, which flips riders upside down, is added.

2005: As the city and county consider new uses for the fairgrounds, executive officers recommend closing the park.

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