Preliminary lease for Kentucky Kingdom approved - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Preliminary lease for Kentucky Kingdom approved

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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A deal has been reached on a preliminary lease that would allow Kentucky Kingdom to reopen.

The 50 year lease between the state and a group formed by Ed Hart, a former operator, means the closed amusement park may be open by 2014.

As part of the agreement, Hart's group, Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Corporation, would invest $45 million in the project. All of the existing rides and any new attractions added to the park would become the property of the state.

Approval of the lease agreement was on the top of the agenda during a meeting of the Kentucky State Fair Board Thursday afternoon. Gov. Steve Beshear encouraged the State Fair Board to approve the lease which he said doesn't put any burden on taxpayers.

"We've got a lease now that I think is a good lease for everybody and we'll be asking the State Fair Board to approve that tomorrow," said Beshear during a Wednesday stop in Louisville. "It meets all the parameters that we laid down and the main obviously is that the state is not going to be guaranteeing any of the private debt and I felt like I needed to protect the taxpayers in that way."

Leaders are happy about the deal, with the jobs and revenue a re-opened amusement park is expected to bring to the area.

"We spend an enormous amount of resources every summer trying to find jobs for people in this community, especially our young people. this is guaranteed every year," said Metro Council Member Kelly Downard.

"There's no attraction that's more popular for tourists than a theme park. and with Kentucky Kingdom closed, it certainly had an impact on the Louisville Zoo, the Louisville Slugger Museum, the Kentucky Derby Museum," said Jim Wood with Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Kentucky Kingdom closed in 2009 after its operator, Six Flags, Inc., underwent Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Before the lease agreement could be dealt with the Fair Board had to agree to the settlement of a lawsuit with Hart and the Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Corporation.

We will continue to follow developments in this breaking story on air, online at wave3.com and on mobile with the free WAVE 3 mobile app.

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