Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is pledging his support for Kentucky Kingdom days after Bluegrass Boardwalk Inc. announced it was pulling out of the project to re-open the old amusement park.
Last Friday, the Koch walked away from its deal with the state fair board despite approval of hefty tax incentives. Bluegrass Boardwwalk CEO Natalie Koch told WFPL that the board voted against the deal because the group’s business model wouldn’t fit well with state regulations and oversight.
Councilman David Tandy, D-4, is chairman of the labor and economic development committee. He says council members were surprised to learn the project had failed, but city and state leaders need to move forward.
“There are a number of different amusement park operators out there that I’m sure are wanting to take a look at this opportunity now that it has re-presented itself,” he says. “And we’ll go forward from there.”
According to Kentucky State Fair Board CEO Harold Workman national companies have already showed interest in operating the park. But skeptics remain given that the project with the Koch family was the second deal to fail in less than a year.
Others have criticized city leaders for not taking the lead and Fischer specifically for appearing to be out of the loop. The administration has pointed out the city does not own the land at the fairgrounds and Metro Government offered Bluegrass Boardwalk $50,000 a year in tax rebates to re-open the old Kentucky Kingdom site.
Tandy says now is not the time for blame, adding that his committee will work with the mayor's office and General Assembly to take a fresh look at the project to see if it can improve an incentive package for a potential developer.
“We’re certainly—every opportunity that we see—we’re engaging different businesses. If there is a unique situation that presents itself we then go to our legislative delegation and then to other members in the legislature to say we may need special legislation to craft it to address those needs,” he says.
Kentucky Kingdom has been closed since 2009.