Action News 5 gets a first look at Libertyland's financial records

The Mid-South Fair has released financial records requested by the city and now the group trying to save the landmark is raising questions about the numbers on those pages.

On June 1, the Memphis City Council asked for the Mid-South Fair Board to disclose internal financial records and IRS tax returns before closing the amusement park.

Steve Mulroy of Save Libertyland says financial records for 2004 show the park is not so bad off.

"Properly analyzed, Libertyland actually turned a profit, did not lose money in 2004, which is what we've been led to believe," he said.

IRS documents show a loss of about $168,017 in 2004, but City Council Member Carol Chumney is not jumping to any conclusions after looking at the numbers.

"They're very interesting and they merit further study. I'd like to see the audited financial statements," she said.

Mulroy says the group is not making any accusations and as the city reviews the financial records, so has an investor who's in town this week to talk with local leaders about Libertyland.

"It's very doable. I think we're excited from that standpoint," said Robert Barnard of the T-Rex Group. He says he's impressed by the financial records.

Barnard is the first investor to come to town to make a solid offer. He will meet with the Memphis City Parks Director, Mid-South Fair officials and other local leaders Monday to talk about taking over the landmark.

Barnard says he'd like to start with a one-year lease paying $10,000 a month and then negotiate to buy the park. He also expressed interested in the Coliseum and says the city would have to act quickly so he could open the park before the summer season begins. He plans to keep all the rides in tact.

"Absolutely. You have to. That's really the core of the park. Would be the Carousel and the Zippin' Pippin," Barnard said.

Chumney says council members can bring issues to light, but they can't make the final call.

"The mayor's in charge and he and his staff are going to have to take the initiative if we want to make something like this work," Chumney said.

Mulroy says the effort to sell Libertyland to a private company would take political will.

"We would love to find a solution in which Mid-South Fair and the city and a private company all get together and work something out, but if Mid-South Fair is not willing to cooperate, then I think the city has other legal options," he said.

Barnard hopes to seal a deal before the Mid-South Fair begins auctioning off post 1974 equipment on June 21, the first day of summer. City Council Member Carol Chumney says the city might benefit by putting together an economic impact study to explore all options and after much indecision, she wants to see some action soon.

"It makes absolutely no sense to me to sit there empty with nothing happening for a year when maybe there could be an option. Let's give it a year and see what happens," she said.

Barnard is meeting with city leaders and Mid-South Fair officials Monday to see if they can iron out a deal. Mid-South Fair officials were unavailable for comment Sunday.