Local News
1:16 pm
Wed December 12, 2012

Gov. Steve Beshear "Excited" About Progress On Kentucky Kingdom Lease Deal

Gov. Steve Beshear says negotiations on a lease deal to reopen the Kentucky Kingdom amusement park are close, and he’s “excited” about the progress being made.

Credit File photo

Beshear made his comments on WHAS-radio this week, saying, “I think it’s fair to say that we’re fairly close to negotiating a lease and if we get there and the fair board approves that, then the next step would be for the bidder to come up with the financing on it.”

The sole group known to be involved in negotiations with the state is the Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Company, which is composed of four private investors led by businessman Ed Hart.

Hart has tried negotiating with the state before without success. Both sides have made it clear they want to reopen the park but what’s unclear is why Hart’s past proposals have been rejected.

The KKRC deal includes $50 million in startup funds and another $70 million over a 30-year lease. Hart previously told the media the group would accept the same lease terms that were offered to Indiana’s Koch family earlier this year.

In the interview this week Beshear still did not say which group the state is in negotiations with, but instead reaffirmed the state would not guarantee any financing. Further, he said he thinks a lease deal will likely be negotiated, “and then it’ll just be whether the bidder can find the financing to do it, and we’ll move down that road next.”

Here are the bullet points of the KKRC proposal.

  • KKRC will make a $120-million investment in Kentucky Kingdom ($50 million in start-up funding and $70 million over the term of the lease with the state).
  • KKRC is not requesting any start-up funding from the state.
  • Kentucky Kingdom will yield $521 million in net new economic benefits for the state and $35 million in net new fiscal benefits for Metro Louisville over the term of the proposed lease.
  • KKRC will accept essentially the same lease terms that the state previously approved for the Holiday World investors. Including the jobs it will stimulate in the hospitality industry and construction trades, Kentucky Kingdom will produce, on average, 2,150 full-time jobs annually.
  • KKRC will restore all but one of the park’s rides and will return the park’s more than 100 buildings to first-class condition.
  • KKRC will add four new rides, including a spectacular new $15-million roller coaster, the first coaster to be introduced at Kentucky Kingdom in over a decade.
  • KKRC will double the size of the water park, “Hurricane Bay,” adding many new attractions.
  • KKRC will offer affordable pricing, especially for season passes and the food at the park.