Hard Rock Park asks for permission to liquidate

COLUMBIA -- After a failed bid to find a buyer for the shuttered Hard Rock Park, the owners of the Myrtle Beach theme park on Friday asked a federal bankruptcy judge for permission to liquidate their assets so creditors can be paid.

Attorneys for Hard Rock Myrtle Beach have asked a Delaware bankruptcy judge to allow them to convert the company's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing to Chapter 7, which would allow the company to sell its assets through a trustee and use the funds to pay the park's creditors.

The company that operated the $400 million, 55-acre amusement park filed for Chapter 11 protection in September and had originally planned to reorganize and reopen for the 2009 season.

Last month, the company put the park up for auction, but no bidder who could pay at least $35 million emerged, and attorneys said the company was forced to take the next step.

"Conversion of these cases to cases under chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code thus appears to be the only remaining means of allowing the Debtors' assets to be liquidated and potential causes of action to be pursued and monetized for the benefit of creditors," attorneys for the company wrote in papers filed Friday.

A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

The park, the biggest single investment ever in South Carolina tourism, opened in April after seven years of planning. The company licensed the brand name from Hard Rock International, owner of the popular restaurant chain, and the park's roller coasters were based on songs like Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" and the Eagles' "Life in the Fast Lane."

Economic experts have said owners couldn't have picked a worse time to start because of a drop in tourism based on rising gas prices and the credit crisis.

A representative for the park's creditors and a spokesman for company did not immediately return messages seeking comment.