A group of four local investors led by businessman Ed Hart says it will invest $50 million without a state guarantee to reopen the Kentucky Kingdom amusement park.
“This is exactly what they wanted and we’re prepared to deliver,” Hart told the media Monday morning.
Kentucky Kingdom has been vacant since Six Flags declared bankruptcy in 2009 and two separate negotiations–including Hart in 2011–fell through. On nearly the same day Hart offered the state a second proposal to reopen the park, Gov. Steve Beshear asked that the operation be open to a request for proposals.
The application period closed last week and Hart’s group is the only known applicant.
The group–Hart, Ed Glasscock, Bruce Lunsford and Mary Moseley– has proposed accepting a 30-year lease, which the state previously offered to another group–the Bluegrass Boardwalk–that backed out of negotiations this year.
Further, it would invest an additional $70 million over the lease term to bring the total to nearly $120 million over 30 years.
Hart said if the state acts soon the park could be open in May 2014, but its unclear how willing the state is to negotiate with Hart or his group. The group needs to know sooner than later or else the reopening date could change, said Hart.
“There’s no question that there’s a lot of controversy surrounding this project. And I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that I’m puzzled why its taking so long,” he said.
Glasscock said they have support from Mayor Greg Fischer and the Metro Council and under the plan the city would see $35 million in new fiscal benefits over the term lease.
“I’m not going to be critical of the Governor or the state at this point. I think they’ve been cautious. They’re looking out for the interest of taxpayers. We respect them for that,” said Glasscock.
The plan includes taking advantage of Kentucky Tourism tax credits, which would be over $12 million once they proved success, as well as some occupational tax breaks offered through the city.
The group plans to add four new rides and double the size of the water park. It also includes 2,150 annual full-time jobs and around $521 million of new economic benefits over the proposed 30-year lease.
Cost of admission is around $40.