On the brink: Six Flags appeals to staycationers

With a protracted legal battle against the city of New Orleans, the closure of its Mexico City park due to swine flu fears, and $4.2 billion in debt, Six Flags would seem to be dealing with insurmountable odds. Yet even in the face of rumors of impending bankruptcy, Six Flags is hanging on like some kind of thrill-seeking front-seat roller-coaster rider.

Even before Hurricane Katrina inflicted $150 million in damage upon Six Flags New Orleans, the park was having trouble making ends meet; following a fight with insurers and lawsuits from the city, the park seems unlikely ever to open again. After Katrina, Six Flags offered New Orleans roughly $14 million in cash and property to get out of its lease; the city refused and, although Six Flags continues to pay its annual $1.4 million rent, the city argues that a shuttered park is bad for local business. An injunction prohibits Six Flags from removing park property, and the company is responsible for keeping trespassers out; a buyout offer is now off the table, and New Orleans seems intent on forcing the company to reopen the park.