Hundreds to lose jobs as Ringling Bros Circus shuts down

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey performers are seen during a show Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017, in Orlando, Fla. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will end the "The Greatest Show on Earth" in May, following a 146-year run of performances. Kenneth Feld, the chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, which owns the circus, told The Associated Press, declining attendance combined with high operating costs are among the reasons for closing. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

ELLENTON, Fla. (WFLA) – In a solemn press conference, CEO Kenneth Feld of Feld Entertainment discussed the reasons for closing down the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus.

Feld was also joined by COO Juliette Feld.

“We’re sad and this was a difficult decision to make. It’s not a sustainable business model,” said Kenneth Feld.

They said over the past decade ticket sales continued to drop. The circus struggled to stay relevant while competing against tv, video games and social media.

But one of the biggest impacts came from the retirement of the iconic elephants. The company did not anticipate the sharp decline in ticket sales following that announcement.

Over 400 employees will lose their jobs after the circus ends its run in May. They will be given severance packages and assistance to find work elsewhere.

The company is also working to find suitable homes for the animals.

Kenneth Feld said the performers were aware of the decline in ticket sales, but they were still surprised by the news over the weekend.

Feld Entertainment considered many options before concluding that the circus had to be shut down.

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus will hold shows in Tampa later this month and their final show will be in Uniondale, NY on May 21st. There are still tickets available for the remaining shows.

“Live entertainment is not going away. There is no replacement for being live at an event and being in the moment and in the experience. We have many other business- Marvel Universe Live, Disney on Ice, Monster Jam, Supercross and others that are thriving. And the legacy of Ringling Bros. will exist in that it has infused all other live entertainment and it was the foundation not just of our company but also of live entertainment in America,” said Juliette Feld.

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