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Governor "excited" about potential Kentucky Kingdom rescue, despite past failures

Kentucky Kingdom entrance

The Governor of Kentucky, Steve Beshear, has expressed confidence that a deal with former owner Ed Hart to rescue the shuttered Kentucky Kingdom theme park will go ahead.

In an interview with WHAS radio, Beshear said that talks are ongoing with a single bidder over taking on the lease for the park. Hart's Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Co. are known to have submitted a bid, and are widely believed to be the only party currently pursuing a deal. However, details of how the bid will be financed are yet to be finalized, with a previous agreement between Hart and the Kentucky State Fair Board having collapsed in acrimonious circumstances.

With a second deal, this time with the owners of Holiday World, having also collapsed, the Fair Board appears to have few options other than to reconsider an agreement with Hart. Beshear claims that the bidder has now agreed that the state will not guarantee any debt used to fund the Kentucky Kingdom rescue, placing pressure on Hart to find private financing. However, the Governor believes that "we're going to get there" on a lease agreement, which would be a step forward from the previous round of negotiations.

Kentucky Kingdom has been closed since the end of the 2009 season, following a failure by former operator Six Flags to agree changes to the park's lease. The Fair Board claimed at the time that the company proposed that it pay no rent for the remaining nine years on the lease - instead offering a cut of any potential future profits.

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