In a battle that has been raging on now for over 3 years, which has swung Kentucky Kingdom from the edge of salvation to the brink of total extinction and annihilation, it finally seems as though a deal may be legitimately coming to reopen the park. According to WFPL, Governor Steve Beshear has approved of a plan to reopen the park, with only the final details left to work out. That group, led by Kentucky Kingdom journeyman Ed Hart, will need to negotiate with the state on its proposal.
After several failed attempts for Ed Hart and his supporters, the group of investors, known as Kentucky Kingdom LLLP, ended up being the only entry to submit a proposal to reopen the park a few months ago when Gov. Beshear opened up for proposals. According to WLKY, the Kentucky State Fair Board finally approved a 50-year lease agreement with Ed Hart, whose attempts until now with the Fair Board had failed.
The investors have already agreed to invest $45 million into the park, but must also secure an additional $25 million in private loans before opening the park. He will also need another $70 million over 30 years for the long-term lease. Beshear told WLKY, "This agreement is great news for the families who will visit Kentucky Kingdom and will certainly be a shot in the arm for local and regional tourism." A big point of the proposal involving the lease was to protect taxpayers from "shouldering private debt."
WLKY reported that Kentucky Kingdom LLLP now has 90 days to complete its financial obligation, at which point the opening of the park can move forward. To help out, Louisville Mayor Greg Fisher will provide three financial incentives to assist in redevelopment, worth as much as $300,000 a year. According to the Courier Journal, the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau voted to provide Hart and his group $100,000 per year for 5 years to help offset the park's operating costs. As well, the Metro government will also give back up to 1.25% of "occupational taxes" (generated by park employment) collected from the park for 10 years, an estimated $100,000 per year.
Hart has his work cut out for him, as the park has sat dormant and been run down for 3 years now without maintenance. The park has already lost Chang to relocation, and according to Hart, Greezed Lightnin' is "beyond repair." On the upside, he does plan to reopen one of the park's other major coasters, Twisted Twins, for the park's second year. Few other details have been revealed, other than the fact that Hart would like to double the size of the water park, add a $15 million coaster, and install 3 major thrill rides, according to the Courier Journal.
Plans seem to be moving forward as all sides work to finalize the deal, with plans to get the park back on track for an opening in 2014.