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Kentucky Kingdom entrance

Former owner Ed Hart's plans to reopen the shuttered Kentucky Kingdom theme park have received a boost, with the state having approved $1.7 million in sales tax rebates.

Hart's Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Company is racing to put together a financing plan by the end of April, having agreed a lease deal for the park with the Kentucky State Fair Board. The tax break will help fund the estimated $45 million cost of reopening Kentucky Kingdom, much of which will be spent on restoring the park's current roster of attractions to operations.

The current plan calls for Kentucky Kingdom to throw open its gates on May 24, 2014, in time for the busy Memorial Day weekend. Hart hopes to add two new rides to the park's line-up, as well as expanding its water park.

The Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Company had previously reached a deal with the Fair Board in 2011, but this subsequently collapsed. The firm's original plans for Kentucky Kingdom involved spending an initial $23 million to bring many of the park's current roster of attractions back into operations. This would have included the immediate reopening of T2, the first Vekoma Steel Suspended Looping Coaster to open in the US. Changes are expected to be made to these plans as a result of the new deal.

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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