Kentucky Kingdom Owner - Six Flags files for bankruptcy

LOUISVILLE, KY --(AP) -- The amusement park company Six Flags is seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, saying it needs to reorganize and shed $1.8 billion of debt.

Mark Shapiro, the New York-based company’s chief executive officer, says the move won’t affect the operation of its 20 theme parks in the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

Six Flags, which owns Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville, says it actually had a great year in 2008. It saw 25 million visitors and posted record revenues. But executives are trying to lighten a $2.4 billion debt load that they say is unsustainable.

Kentucky Kingdom President Andy Michaelree said the bankruptcy won’t mean any changes for the park in Louisville. The park has about 70 full-time employees and seasonal hires boost the number of people working there in the summer to about 1,000, Michaelree said.

“There will be no layoffs or reductions in work force,” Michaelree said.

He added that the company will not reduce its hours of operation and that it will continue honoring season passes.

“We’re still a great company with a bad balance sheet and we’re trying to turn this around,” he said.

The bankruptcy filing came after an earlier plan to negotiate an out-of-court deal with creditors failed.

Six Flags shares have traded below $1 since September. They closed at 26 cents on Friday.

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