Talks are continuing over a deal to reopen the Kentucky Kingdom theme park in 2012, with the State Fair Board extending a deal with a potential operator.
The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that the deal with former owner Ed Hart has been extended through September 30, 2011, having been due to expire on May 1. The extension will provide more time for Hart, the Kentucky State Fair Board and the Louisville Metro Government to continue discussions over a financing package to support the reopening of the park.
The Fair Board is supporting a plan submitted by Hart to the council earlier this month, which would see the city provide a $17.5 million bond in exchange for receiving a guaranteed share of revenues from Kentucky Kingdom. The city government has previously rejected a request for a $20 million bond, but has stated its desire to see the park reopen in the near future.
In a press release, Hart said of the extension: "Our goal has always been to put 1,000 people back to work and open the park next year. However, time is running out. There is much work to be done, and there are very long lead times on critical parts and equipment. We can’t waste any more time.”
The new plan would see Kentucky Kingdom opened on a limited basis in 2012, with several key elements of Hart's ambitious original plans dropped. Proposals to add a major new rollercoaster, to expand the water park and to reopen the T2 and Twisted Twins rollercoasters would be dropped. However, several smaller attractions would be added and the water park would still have receive a limited upgrade, alongside refurbishments to existing rides.
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.