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City rejects plans to fund Kentucky Kingdom reopening in 2012

Kentucky Kingdom entrance
Kentucky Kingdom is unlikely to resume operations until 2013 at the earliest. Image: Steve Magruder, Wikimedia Commons (license)

The Louisville Metro Government has rejected a request to issue a $20 million bond that would have enabled the Kentucky Kingdom theme park to reopen in 2012.

The news, reported by Business First, is the latest blow to former owner Ed Hart's plans to revive the park. State legislators had already failed to agree a $50 million bond issue to fund a complete overhaul of the park, resulting in the scaled-back proposal being put forward to the city.

Chris Poynter, the deputy director of communications for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, said that the level of risk involved was the deciding factor in the decision. According to Poynter, the city would be “put on the hook for the bonds if (park revenue) projections weren’t met". The city would have received $450,000 a year in parking revenue from Kentucky Kingdom, according to Hart.

The latest plan would have seen Kentucky Kingdom opened on a limited basis in 2012, with several key elements of Hart's ambitious plans dropped. Proposals to add a major new rollercoaster, to expand the water park and to reopen the T2 and Twisted Twins rollercoasters would have been dropped. However, several smaller attractions would have been added and the water park would still have received a more limited upgrade, alongside refurbishments to existing rides.

The head of the Kentucky State Fair Board, which owns the Kentucky Kingdom site, claims that it will pursue its request for a $50 million bond with the state in 2012. Harold Workman says that the aim will be to reopen the park in 2013.

Hart has revealed that is currently spending more than $100,000 a month on maintenance, landscaping and security at the park. His Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment company hopes to spend around $30 million of the bond on new attractions, with the rest being used to restore the park's rides and facilities following its extended closure.

Former operator Six Flags announced the closure of Kentucky Kingdom in January 2010, following a failure to agree changes to the park's lease. The Fair Board claims that Six Flags proposed that it pay no rent for the nine remaining years on the lease - instead offering the state a cut of any potential future profits.

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