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Was Nyíregyháza mayor ‘bluffing’ about Legoland?

Hungarian media is calling Nyíregyháza Mayor Ferenc Kovács’s announcement that a Legoland Discovery Center is to be built in the city a “bluff,” as franchise operator Merlin Entertainments has told online business news site privatbankar.hu that it has no plans to establish such a center here. 

Did the mayor of Nyíregyháza fall into deep waters with his “announcement”?

Nyíregyháza Mayor Ferenc Kovács announced in a Facebook post earlier that, following Berlin, Oberhausen, Istanbul and Manchester, the next Legoland Discovery Center is set to be opened in Nyíregyháza, in northeast Hungary. He added that the government has set aside HUF 9.5 billion for the investment, due to be wound up by 2020.

However, Merlin Entertainments, which holds the exclusive rights for establishing and operating such centers and is the owner of the franchise, refuted the mayor’s claims. “Merlin Entertainments currently has no plans on opening a Legoland Discovery Center in Nyíregyháza,” privatbankar.hu cites an e-mail it claims to have received.

In response to a question from privatbankar.hu, the local council of Nyíregyháza said that the Hungarian government had set aside a budget of HUF 9.5 bln in order to make it possible for Nyíregyháza to “approach the international business group” as a “serious negotiating partner” for the establishment of the center.