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Kentucky Kingdom reopening a distant dream as State Fair Board ends talks

Kentucky Kingdom entrance

The future of the closed Kentucky Kingdom theme park is once again uncertain, after the State Fair Board ended talks with a prospective operator.

The board's president, Harold Workman, called off the talks over the weekend after failing to hit a September 30 deadline to reach a lease agreement with the Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Company. The company, run by former Kentucky Kingdom owner Ed Hart, had been in exclusive negotiations with the board for the last twelve months.

The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that Workman blamed the breakdown of talks on Hart, claiming that his firm was seeking revenue guarantees from the state that could not be met. Hart himself has since described the end of negotiations as "puzzling", promising to fully support any future operator of Kentucky Kingdom.

The bid to reopen the park had received a boost in August, when hotel operator the Al J. Schneider company offered to guarantee loans made to the Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Company. However, the firm still needed to secure a further $20 million in state funding, along with a lease agreement with the State Fair Board.

The news means that Kentucky Kingdom will not reopen until 2013 at the earliest, with the board now searching for other potential operators. It had previously selected Hart's company's plans as the most attractive of several initial proposals.

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.


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