LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The new year will bring a new leader to oversee the umbrella of the Kentucky State Fair Board, an entity that's been showered with challenges. The man who'll take the helm confirmed he'll be on the job in January.
Former Kentucky Kingdom, empty venues and declining revenue await Rip Rippetoe's arrival. "We can't wait to move and get started on this new chapter of our lives," Rippetoe said. He and his wife plan to relocate by the end of the year when outgoing president Harold Workman retires and leaves behind a $5 million deficit.
Rippetoe accepted the CEO/President position after the board launched a nationwide search. The State Fair Board hopes to revitalize its image with the newly selected leader.
"I've been brought in to create efficiencies and find productivity," Rippetoe said. "I see the challenges being more on a global scale. Meaning, I think Louisville isn't just competing in the regional marketplace, but we're competing with cities across the U.S. for international business."
Struggling venues, like Broadbent Arena, have a maximum seating capacity of 6,600. Fair Board Chairman Ron Carmicle touted Rippetoe's facility management experience, so WAVE 3 questioned Rippetoe about his solution to venues without consistent events.
"We've consulted with arenas on several occasions. I also managed a stadium and consulted and worked with private management, but until I have an opportunity to explore the complexities of each venue - it would be premature to say what we should do," Rippetoe said.
Currently, Rippetoe is finalizing year-end projects with his Las Vegas consulting company, Rippetoe Solutions Group. He said the company will be dissolved once he accepts an estimated $250,000 salary.
Rippetoe admits, there's a lot he hasn't seen.
"Time didn't allow for me to get inside the Kingdom. I had a chance to briefly tour the KY Expo Center and some of the wings, but I still need to research and explore all the moving parts," Rippetoe said.
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