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Souvenirs still fill Hard Rock Park

The list is 189 pages long, with 50 items per page. Thousands of hats, T-shirts, pins, shot glasses, lighters, coffee mugs, temporary tattoos and books - a cornucopia of souvenirs that greeted riders as they stumbled off roller coasters at Hard Rock Park - and hundreds of pounds of candy, gallons of ice cream and tens of thousands of condiment packets.

Now that the park has shut down and filed for bankruptcy, much of the themed merchandise - almost $5 million of it, according to the park's inventory list - remains on the shelves.

Starting bids for the park are due today. The minimum bid is $35 million, and bidders must be accepted to be able to participate in the auction Monday at the park's attorney's office in New York.

The park's lawyers could not be reached for comment.

If the winner of the auction chooses to keep the Hard Rock theme, it is unclear whether the cafe company will continue to license its name.

If the park does not reopen under the Hard Rock brand name, it's likely that the stock of souvenirs will be sold at auction, said Thom Pattie, a vice president with WorthPoint, a company that tracks sales and values of antiques and collectibles.

"In 99 percent of bankruptcy cases, the trustee will have the items sold at auction," he said.

Bidders are likely to be experts on the market with enough money to buy in bulk - by the thousand - and turn around and put the merchandise on eBay or sell it in flea markets, he said.

"It's the time for people that have money and can sit on stock for a while that will end up buying items like these," Pattie said. "Buying at auction is not for the novice. They need to be familiar with the auction process and what goes on. There are thousands of people that make their living just attending auctions, buying things and reselling them."

There are already dozens of Hard Rock Park items on eBay, from shirts selling at $75 to pins and posters selling for 99 cents.

What a way to go

There are other options for the park. For example, Opryland, a Nashville theme park that closed in 1997, donated its souvenirs to Goodwill after it tried to sell the items to the public at deep discounts. The company, Gaylord Entertainment, set up a large tent outside the park for the sale, but eventually gave about $1 million worth of merchandise to the charity, The Associated Press reported.

It's hard to say what the value of these items might be, but basic laws of supply and demand apply, Pattie said. The Hard Rock name is going to help out, too, because vacationers around the world enjoy picking up items with the logo on it, he said.

What would have a lot of value is the stuff that adorned the wall of the souvenir shops - memorabilia signed by rock legends.

Those items, a hallmark of the Hard Rock cafes, were leased to the park and will not be included in the sale of the park, said Kristen Hauser, a spokeswoman for Hard Rock International.

The items included Beatles gold records, signed guitars, and outfits from the likes of Cher and Madonna.

The company licensed the brand name to the park for $2.5 million a year, according to court documents.

Other companies and individuals who had lent items to the park have also been trying to get them back, such as Arlo Guthrie, who lent memorabilia to go along with Alice's Restaurant, and Myrtle Beach Harley-Davidson, which gave the park motorcycles for use in stunt shows.

Mike Shank, a spokesman for the dealership, said he got the five motorcycles back.

"When you pick the stuff up, you have to pass through security, but when you leave the security guard has to check to make sure you're not taking anything you're not supposed to be taking," he said. "He wanted to match up the models of the motorcycles before we left."

Shank said he was worried for a while that the motorcycles would be tied up or difficult to get back, but that things worked out.

"They were very professional about it," he said. "It was a slow process, but they were very professional about getting me everything when they could, when they were allowed to."

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