Exclusive: Fair Board CEO says Arena Authority owes $2 million
Clifford "Rip" Rippetoe
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - They severed ties in June, but the Kentucky State Fair Board says they are still waiting for the Louisville Arena Authority to pay them millions in operating costs.
The partnership appeared to start out well, but last June the group that runs the KFC Yum! Center split ways with its operator, the Kentucky State Fair Board. At that time, State Fair Board CEO Clifford "Rip" Rippetoe says the Authority agreed to pay the Fair Board for operating costs for the first part of 2012.
"We're reviewing that amount right now. The initial estimate was $2 million," said Rippetoe who went before members of the Kentucky House who deal with budgets for tourism in the state on Wednesday.
After only six weeks on the job, Rippetoe told the legislators he is trying to get the state fair board to a point of being financially self-sufficient. Right now, Rippetoe said they're operating with a $5 million deficit.
"Since 2006 we have lost approximately $5.6 dollars in annual revenue from things such as Kentucky Kingdom when it closed, UofL basketball, and Freedom Hall events that moved."
Rippetoe is confident they'll get relief this year when Ed Hart starts operating Kentucky Kingdom again, but there's still that outstanding money from the Arena Authority.
"I think it's important that we come to a resolution to just simply so we can put that chapter behind us and move forward," said Rippetoe.
According to Rippetoe the agreement was to have the money owed within nine months. That deadline is next month.
The KFC Yum! Center has been plagued with money concerns in its short tenure, including having their bond rating reduced and asking the city for more money to help pay off debts. Rippetoe said he's not familiar with the financial history which is why he's conducting an audit to verify both sides agree on the payment.
"I'm still in that phase of getting to know the Arena Authority and understanding what the processes were and what moneys were," said Rippetoe. "That's why I'm checking into it."
At their last meeting in January, Arena Authority members said they had a net profit of $845,000 in 2012.
Metro Council President Jim King, who is also on the Arena Authority, said he is aware the effort to "reconcile" the operating debt, but expects to settle by paying a smaller amount.
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