A circus might find its home in Coney Island

March 30, 2009 at 2:57 am Leave a comment

Brooklynites living in Coney Island will have to wait a bit longer before seeing elephants, clowns and trapeze acts.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus hopes to soon pitch its tent on Coney Island for the first time, but many obstacles stand in their way.

After Astroland Amusement Park on Coney Island officially closed in September 2008, Ringling began negotiations with Joe Sitt, the island’s largest landowner. But talks fell through when Feld Entertainment, the company that produces Ringling, refused to meet all of Sitt’s demands, the New York Post reported.

Taconic Investment Partners, who owns land west of the Coney Island boardwalk, between West 21st Street and Keyspan parking lot, is now speaking to Ringling about the potential new site.

“Coney Island is an American icon, and anyone would be excited to bring the circus there,” said Steve Payne, vice president of feld entertainment. But, he added, “it would be premature to talk about any market we don’t have yet.”

Taconic Investment Partners could not be contacted for comment.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a plan to rezone Coney Island for a mix of hotel, residential and retail developments. The city also has plans to build a temporary amusement park that would run for nearly seven years.

Rev. Billy of The Church of Life After Shopping lead a campaign to stop retail development on Coney Island. He welcomes the idea of the Ringling Bros.

“I’m happy if anything comes to Coney Island that isn’t a hotel or Bed Bath & Beyond,” he said.

After speaking to several members in the community, Rev. Billy said response to the idea was positive.

“The circus is definitely much more in the tradition of Coney Island,” he said.

Savitri Durkee, director of the Church of Life After Shopping, thinks Ringling would help breathe life into the island.

“The circus would demonstrate that Coney Island is still alive, well and operational,” Durkee said.

Community Board 13, which includes Coney Island, voted in favor of the plan. Chair of the board Richard Hellenbrecht refused to comment on any effect the proposed plan would have on Ringling.
Richa Naik
NYU News

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