A deal is reportedly close that would enable the shuttered Kentucky Kingdom theme park to reopen, with the prospective operators currently negotiating a long-term lease.
Business First reports that the Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Co. is close to securing an agreement on $29 million in private funding that would enable it to refurbish the park and restore it to operations. The company, led by former Kentucky Kingdom CEO Ed Hart, is now seeking an adjustment in the lease terms on offer from the Kentucky State Fair Board.
Hart's firm has been pursuing funding deals with both private and public sector bodies, and will still require further funding for a second phase in the park's reconstruction. The tipping point in securing the initial round of funding came in August, when hotel operator the Al J. Schneider company offered to guarantee loans made to the Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Co. The Scheider company currently owns several hotel properties close to Kentucky Kingdom, including the Crowne Plaza Louisville Airport.
If a deal can be reached on the lease terms, an initial $23 million would be used to bring many of Kentucky Kingdom's current roster of attractions back into operations for the 2012 season. This would include the immediate reopening of T2, the first Vekoma Steel Suspended Looping Coaster to open in the US. The ride would receive a reprofiled track, new controls, new magnetic brakes and all-new trains. Two new family thrill rides would be added to the park, while its water park would also be expanded.
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.