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Archive for Friday, June 20, 2008

Defunct amusement park sold

June 20, 2008

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— The buyer of a Wichita-area amusement park is starting the process of turning it into a destination entertainment complex, which could possibly include a tribal casino.

AHG Group LLC, a Maitland, Fla., development company headed by Alan Ginsburg, won Wild West World amusement park Wednesday with a $2.15 million bid in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The deal is tentatively set to close June 30.

The $30 million Western-themed amusement park opened in May 2007. It closed two months later after its owner, Thomas Etheredge, said low attendance and construction cost overruns pushed the park to bankruptcy.

Amusement Holdings signed a $2 million contract in early May to buy the park. But it failed to meet a tentative May 30 closing deadline.

Doug Spangler, a former legislator representing AHG in Wichita, said he hopes to announce a development initiative, possibly including plans for hotels and restaurants, in 10 to 15 days.

"We've had discussions with one operator, who doesn't think it's too late to get the park open this year," Spangler told The Wichita Eagle.

Ginsburg testified via telephone during the bankruptcy court hearing. He operates AHG, a multibillion-dollar company that includes entertainment, retail, commercial, industrial and multifamily projects.

Ginsburg is also known for several corporations active in the American Indian gaming boom across the country, including the 7th Street Casino in Kansas City, Kan.

The 10-acre amusement park site, located north of Wichita along Interstate 35 in Park City, is close to land the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma has owned since 1992. The Wyandotte land could accommodate a casino but lacks the space for parking and other entertainment development.

Spangler said his company is keeping all possible entertainment options open for the Wild West World land.

"(Gaming) is so far away," he said. "AHG has a lot of real estate interests, and we like to work with communities of some size who are pro-growth. I believe this is one of them."

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