Wed January 23, 2013
Gov. Steve Beshear Endorses Plan to Reopen Kentucky Kingdom
Gov. Steve Beshear says he approves of a plan to reopen the Kentucky Kingdom theme park.
The final details of a plan may change depending on negotiations between state officials and the lone group — led by businessman Ed Hart — to respond to the state's request for proposals. Beshear says he's behind the deal and he expects the fair board to approve. “Assuming that the group can get their private financing, the state's ready to go and I think the fair board's ready to go," Beshear told WFPL on Wednesday. "When that lease is approved, we're ready and waiting.”
Beshear says all that's left is a formal vote by the Kentucky State Fair Board.
Then it's up to Hart's group to get private financing in place to renovate and re-open the park.
Hart's Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Company originally proposed making $120 million in private investments and a 30-year lease. But depending on negotiations with the state, that could change.
The State Fair Board will meet Thursday to vote on the plan.
“It meets all of the parameters that we laid down in the RFP and one of the main ones is the state will not be guaranteeing any of the private debt," Beshear said of the plan.
A spokeswoman for Hart's group declined to comment.
The theme park's last operator, Six Flags, shuttered it after the 2009 season. This is the third time an outside group has sought to re-open the park, and the second time that group has been led by Hart, who operated the park before Six Flags. Last year, the owners of Holiday World in Santa Claus, Ind., attempted to re-open the park under the name Bluegrass Boardwalk, but eventually walked away from the project.
On Tuesday, the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau committed money to help open the park.