The president of the Kentucky State Fair Board says he is confident that a legal wrangle with Six Flags will result in Kentucky Kingdom's rides remaining in place for the theme park's new operator.
Harold Workman told Wave3 that the board is close to agreeing a deal with the park's former operator that would see ownership of the rides transferred to the Fair Board. This would enable returning former owner Ed Hart to reopen Kentucky Kingdom in time for the 2011 summer season.
The Fair Board president said of the talks: "We anticipate in the negotiation with Six Flags that when we finalize the agreement, it will include the rides and they will belong to the Fair Board at that time." Workman has previously stated that he hopes to reach an agreement with Hart's KK Redevelopment Company for the lease of the land on which Kentucky Kingdom sits by July 31.
Both Hart and the Fair Board still face further challenges in getting Kentucky Kingdom back into operation. Workman has claimed that upgrading the theme park and its associated Splashwater Kingdom water park could cost as much as $20 million. Hart will contribute just $3 million of this, with the Fair Board seeking to raise the rest through a bond issue.
The continuing closure of Kentucky Kingdom is a blow to this year's Kentucky State Fair, with the park having traditionally formed part of the fair's "Thrillway". This has enabled visitors to the fair to enjoy both a selection of temporary midway rides plus all of the theme park's attractions. The 2010 event will include only the midway attractions, although Workman says the operator will bring a minimum of fifty rides - eight more than last year.
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.