Archive for Wednesday, December 8, 1999

OZ GIVES KANSAS OFFICIALS TOUR OF LA HEADQUARTERS

December 8, 1999

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Lawrence city commissioners were among those afforded a sneak peak at the Oz Entertainment Co. headquarters in Los Angeles.

Lawrence city officials said the Oz Entertainment Co. did a good selling job when it gave a tour of its facilities in Los Angeles to a group of visiting Kansas public officials.

Oz's pitch: The high-tech wizardry that would be incorporated at the proposed Wonderful World of Oz theme park near DeSoto.

"Their selling point at this time was just to make it a very big family-oriented park that would be a big drawing point for a lot of people on their summer vacations," Lawrence City Commissioner Marty Kennedy said.

Kennedy, along with Lawrence Mayor Erv Hodges and city commissioners Mike Rundle and Jim Henry, and City Manger Mike Wildgen, were in Los Angeles last week for the National League of Cities' annual meeting.

They, along with city officials from Overland Park, Ottawa, Olathe, Prairie Village and Lenexa toured Oz's headquarters.

The Oz group wants to build a $771.4 million, 55-acre Disney-like theme park in a corner of the 9,062-acre mothballed Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant site, located south of DeSoto.

"You could see that a lot of money has been invested up to this point in their plans and in their proposals," Hodges said.

"You could also see that should that Oz development come to pass, it would be a very interesting theme park to visit," he said. "That does not address whether it will be economically feasible or not."

Hodges said company officials did not talk about financing or infrastructure for the proposed park.

"When you go in for infrastructure needs, they may be competing with us for those scarce dollars," Hodges said.

"My concern is how do we get millions of people there on the highway," Kennedy said.

"By all appearances they seem to be competent," Rundle said. "They certainly have an impressive track record for other parks " (but) I think there are still a lot of unknowns.

"I would like to assess the impact of how it would affect our own community," he said.

-- Michael Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is mdekker@ljworld.com.

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