The Kentucky State Fair Board says that the Kentucky Kingdom theme park is on track to reopen under a new operator in time for the 2011 season.
The board's president, Harold Workman, told Fox 41 that former owner Ed Hart will present a business plan for reviving the park to the board in October. In May, Hart's KK Redevelopment Company was selected ahead of a rival bid to take over the operation of Kentucky Kingdom, which has been closed throughout 2010.
One legal hurdle remains for Hart and the Fair Board, with a bankruptcy court set to rule on the validity of an agreement between the board and former operator Six Flags that was struck in July. The court is presiding over the bankruptcy proceedings of Six Flags (which is now under new ownership), and the judge will make a decision on September 15th.
If approved, the deal will see the Fair Board take ownership of the sixty acres of the park that are owned by Six Flags, and all but one of its rides. Six Flags will receive $2 million as part of the agreement, and will no longer be required to pay overdue rent and back taxes to the state.
According to Screamscape, the plans are likely to involve relocating the entrance to the park and leaving some sections and attractions closed. These are likely to include the Greezed Lightning and Twisted Twins rollercoasters, in addition to the Road Runner Express wild mouse coaster which was not included in the deal with Six Flags.
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 Fair Board has denied that the park's absence affected attendance at this year's Kentucky State Fair. Its rides usually appear alongside temporary attractions as part of the fair, but were unable to do in 2010. Although attendance declined compared to 2009's event, organisers believe this is due to a weaker line-up of concert entertainers rather than Kentucky Kingdom's absence, pointing out that additional midway attractions were brought in to compensate for this.
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.