NewsLocal NewsInvestigations


Report: Schlitterbahn future in jeopardy, park owes $180M

Posted at 8:05 PM, Mar 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-04 21:06:43-05

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A report filed last week by Kansas City investment firm EPR Properties raises doubts about whether or not Schlitterbahn can re-pay $179.8 million in debt the company owes the firm for the Kansas City, Kansas water park.

As 41 Action News first reported on Friday, in a required filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), EPR notes Schlitterbahn owes the firm $179.8 million as of Dec. 31, 2018.

But EPR says it's given additional money to Schlitterbahn to cover legal expenses from a series of criminal charges against park operators including owner Jeff Henry following the death of a 10-year-old boy on the Verrückt water slide in 2016.

Wyandotte County Judge Robert Burns dismissed the charges last month.

However in its filing, EPR notes the Kansas Attorney General could re-open the case and bring new charges, resulting in negative publicity.

Publicly backed STAR bonds have helped develop the Schlitterbahn Water Park and surrounding businesses.

In its filing, EPR states if Schlitterbahn can't pay off its debt, the firm could take control of two of Schlitterbahn's Texas water parks.

A bank bought another Schlitterbahn Water Park in Corpus Christi, Texas at a foreclosure auction last year.

EPR said another alternative to get its money repaid would be to get additional STAR bond money from the state of Kansas and the Unified Government.

Schlitterbahn has not indicated whether or not it will open this season in KCK.

A company spokeswoman said the company has no updates on the Kansas City operation at this time.

While Unified Government Administrator Doug Bach didn't comment on the possibility of issuing more STAR bonds to help Schlitterbahn, he did indicate a potential water park closure would not impact the ability of the UG to repay the STAR bond debt it already has for the area.

“The STAR Bonds issued as part of the Schlitterbahn development are performing well. Sales from the waterpark represent only about two percent of the sales tax generated in the area, so its overall performance has minimal impact on the district sales tax revenues. Other retailers in the area are performing well and as additional development such as the Menards store move in, it will continue to strengthen the vitality of the area and add revenue that is not currently anticipated toward paying-off the bonds.” Bach said.