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Six Flags, Hurricane Harbor could sell beer next year

Dallas Morning News

Original Article »

December 20, 2007

Arlington theme parks Six Flags Over Texas and Hurricane Harbor could begin selling beer as soon as this spring, if the company's permit is approved.

Six Flags Inc., which owns the two parks, has applied to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission for a license to sell alcohol at the parks. In accordance with state law, signs were posted in the park Monday, beginning a 60-day public comment period.

If the application is approved, the park may begin selling beer sometime in March, said John Bement, senior vice president of in-park services for Six Flags Over Texas.

The parks' New York-based parent company has lost money recently, but Mr. Bement said the decision was not financially motivated.

"Truthfully, revenue is not the driving force here," he said. "For some time now, many of our guests have requested beer as an option while enjoying a meal at the park, and it's really for that reason that we've taken these steps."

Some other Six Flags theme parks, including Fiesta Texas in San Antonio, already serve alcohol. Mr. Bement said the company would take strict measures to ensure that minors do not have access to alcohol at the park.

"We will have very strict guidelines in place, along with extensive training and auditing procedures, to make sure the serving is controlled," he said.

Six Flags, the second-biggest U.S. theme park operator after Walt Disney Co., has lost money in the last four quarters and has seen its revenue decline as attendance falls and spending on new rides increases.

This year, the company announced plans to sell seven theme parks for $312 million to a company led by Dallas business executive Michael Jenkins. That sale did not include the Arlington park.

The 60-day waiting period primarily serves to inform the community about the permit application, said Carolyn Beck, TABC public information officer.

Protests may be filed with the commission, but they must have a legal basis to warrant denial of an application. If granting a permit would conflict with a city ordinance governing the sale of alcohol near a church or school, for example, that would be grounds for denial. More information can be found on the TABC's Web site, /protest.htm.

"The law doesn't allow us to refuse a permit just because someone doesn't want a business to serve alcohol," Ms. Beck said.

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