Preliminary plans to reopen Kentucky Kingdom unveiled

Ed Hart
Ed Hart
Rep. Larry Clark
Rep. Larry Clark
Harold Workman
Harold Workman

Louisville, KY - By Marisela Burgos - bio | email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The new owners of Kentucky Kingdom anticipate it will cost millions of dollars to get the amusement park back to its glory. They estimate it will cost about $50 million to renovate what is there and for new attractions. The Kentucky State Fair Board asked the Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Company to create a business plan for the park. Its president, Ed Hart, said he has a business plan that he believes is a "win, win" for everyone.

Hart will officially present the business plan to the Fair Board next month. He said he believes a $50 million revenue bond is an option that will allow them to reopen Kentucky Kingdom.

"You have one shot at a first impression and for 10 years this park has literally been ignored," Hart said during an afternoon press conference.

His plan includes refurbishing the rides currently on the site, build a front entrance along Phillips Lane, free parking, $1 drinks, doubling the size of the water park, among other things.

"We know 1.3 million in attendance is out there. This is much like recruiting good players for a basketball team. The rides are our players. We need good players. We need the good rides and we can have a good team," said Hart.

But in order to get that good team, Hart said, "This has to be a public/private partnership. If you're trying to do without public involvement and put it on private sector, the same thing will happen that happened to Six Flags."

Based on an economic impact study, Hart said it indicates the park would bring in $3 billion in economic impact over 20 years and $11 million a year in new revenue.

Hart said 30% of that new revenue would pay for the bond and the other 70% would go back to the state and local government. Hart hopes he will get support from the state government and that they approve a $50 million revenue bond.

"In terms of state officials' decisions, that's up to them. I can't speak for them. What I can speak for is the park clearly pays for itself. The state conducted an impact study. It indicates the park pays for itself and creates surplus revenue for the state," Hart explained.

State Representative Ron Crimm (R-Louisville) agrees the park cannot stay abandoned.

"What we can't do is afford to let that place sit still," said Crimm.

After Hart presents the business plan for Kentucky Kingdom to the Fair Board, it has to be approved by the board, before it is looked over by state lawmakers. If that happens, Crimm said they will review it.

"I just don't know what they're going to do. That is going to be up to the Chairman of the committee and whether or not we can do it," Crimm said. "We'll do what we can do. The question is ... is it there and can we do it?"

"Our plan calls for an obligation on our part to invest millions of money, every year, to grow the park," Hart said. "Why wouldn't the state participate if the bulk of the fiscal revenue is going to the state?"

Representative Larry Clark (D-Louisville) said he met with Hart and Harold Workman, president and CEO of the Kentucky State Fair Board, two months ago. During that time, Clark said he understood the project would cost $20 million, not $50 million. Saying he was surprised by the increase, Clark told us he does not commit to anything until he sees a proposal.

Copyright 2010 WAVE News. All rights reserved.