Monday, September 28, 2009

Six Flags plans to build theme park in Nigeria

America's largest amusement park corporation is planning to do what no other foreign  theme park company has done before and is venturing into uncharted territory to build a Six Flags theme park in Nigeria.

Six Flags plans to build a 250-acre park by 2013 in the city of Calabar in Cross River state. The only other two international theme parks Six Flags operate are in Montreal and Mexico City. There are currently no large-scale theme parks like Six Flags in existence in Nigeria.

The executive vice president of strategic development and in-park services for Six Flags, Andrew Schleimer had this to say about the venture:

"We saw Nigeria, a country with a population of more than 140 million people, a rapidly growing middle class and relatively few theme-park options, as a good emerging market to expand Six Flags' global brand,"

Dennis Speigel, the president of International Theme Parks Services, a consulting firm in Cincinnati expressed some reservations on the project:

"I'm not sure if this announcement brings credibility to Six Flags' table," 

"It's a worthy cause for Six Flags to spread this type of entertainment, but [Nigeria] is a tough place to do business given the role corruption and government interference play there," he said. "Some parts of the country are having trouble clothing its people. I have to question whether Nigeria is ready for an attraction of this nature," he said.

The development of a Nigerian Six Flags Theme Park is still in the early stages but Six Flags officials have expressed their confidence about the project. "We have certainly done our due diligence," Mr. Schleimer said.

 "The first phase of this project is designed to get to know the partners, the lay of the land and to conceptualize the look and feel of the project. The first phase is a fact-finding mission for both parties.

"We are aware of pockets of civil unrest in the country, mainly in the north. So far, we are comfortable with the stability of the region that we are working in," he said. 

After completion of the planning phase, Six Flags and the Nigerian government will collaborate on the design, construction and management of the park according to Mr. Schleimer. He also said construction labour is expected to come from the local population, which will bolster economic growth and that financing of the project will probably be the result of a public-private partnership in which the government pays part of the cost.

Washington Times

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