After a few months of relative silence, it seems things surrounding the SBNO Kentucky Kingdom amusement park in Louisville, Kentucky have picked back up once again. According to a report from the Courier Journal last week, Ed Hart and other business leaders were proposing a $40 million proposal to reopen the park by 2014.
This is Hart’s second time trying to get the park back open, after being refuted by the Kentucky State Fair Board back in October of last year. At that time, he had committed $1 million in personal funding, $5.6 million in equity, and $23 million in private funds from the Al J. Schneider Company of hotels, and was seeking $20 million from the Kentucky General Assembly. After talks had concluded, the Fair Board essentially wrote Hart off stating “Hart is out of the picture as a potential Kentucky Kingdom operator.”
The latest proposal from Hart comes right on the heels of Governor Steve Beshear asked the Fair Board to request proposals for operators of the park. Hart continues to push forward with strongly supported proposals, but also continues to be turned down by the Fair Board with little or no explanation. Now he’s offering up nearly $10 million in upfront equity, and an additional $30 million from lenders. As reported by the Courier Journal, Hart’s proposal expects the same $400,000 first-year rent offered to Bluegrass Boardwalk, increasing to $750,000 down the line, and discussions on how to split parking revenue.
Wave3 reported that the $30 million from lenders would be loan money, which Beshear is concerned could come from taxpayers which “raises a question or two in [his] mind.” Hart argues though, that the $30 million would be used on rides and equipment, which could all be used as collateral on the loan, lowering the risk for taxpayers and other potential loan parties. Hart’s biggest concern for the park is the fact that every year the park sits, the more it deteriorates, the more expensive it becomes to fix back up, and the more bleak it’s future becomes.
The last ray of hope for Kentucky Kingdom came from the Koch family, owners of the thriving Holiday World just hours north, who planned to reopen the park as Bluegrass Boardwalk. With $16.5 million ready to go, a plan set for the future of the park, and even a new logo created, the Koch’s finally walked after months of “red tape” frustrated their efforts.
It seems the Fair Board will be putting in a request for proposals within 30 days, at which point it will likely have 30-45 days set aside for submissions. The board would then review all proposals and hopefully find a good one which would allow them to negotiate a lease for the park. Ron Carmicle, Chairman of the fair board said that they had received interest from several potential operators after the Koch family deal fell through, and hope to find a deal that works for all parties involved to get the park back in operation.