The closed Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom park could be set to reopen in 2011, as the Kentucky State Fair Board considers a deal with a new operator.
According to a report in the Courier-Journal, Fair Board president Harold Workman will recommend a new operator to the board at its monthly meeting on Thursday. If the board agrees to a deal with the operator (the identity of which is currently unknown), then the park could return in time for the 2011 season. However, Workman confirmed that any agreement will come too late for the park to open in 2010.
The Fair Board head claims that six companies submitted inquiries about replacing Six Flags as Kentucky Kingdom's operator following its closure in January, with two submitting firm proposals. Workman claims that the company he will recommend to the Fair Board is experienced in the amusement park industry.
Further hurdles remain to any potential reopening of the defunct park. First, the Fair Board must negotiate a lease agreement with the new operator - something which may not be straightforward, given Six Flags' claim that its existing lease terms were a major reason for the park's closure. Second, either the operator or the Fair Board must purchase the 15 acres of land on the site that are owned by Six Flags. Finally, a legal dispute between the state and Six Flags over the ownership of the rides on the site must be settled.
Earlier this month, Workman claimed that any new operator would have to spend "millions of dollars" on upgrading Kentucky Kingdom and its Splashwater Kingdom water park. The closure of the park is estimated to have cost the Louisville economy in the region of $10 million in 2010.
Six Flags announced the closure of Kentucky Kingdom in January, 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 9 remaining years on the lease - instead offering the state a cut of any potential future profits.
The company, which runs an extensive chain of parks across North America, initially said that it intended to move many of Kentucky Kingdom's rides to those parks and to offer employees the chance to relocate.