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Funding woes to keep Kentucky Kingdom closed in 2011

Published: Oct. 28, 2010 at 10:26 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 20, 2011 at 2:26 PM EDT
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Ed Hart
Ed Hart
Harold Workman
Harold Workman
Troy Shortridge
Troy Shortridge
Laura Upton
Laura Upton

Louisville, KY - By Connie Leonard - bio | email
Posted by Charles Gazaway - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – It is not the news many in the community want to hear. Kentucky Kingdom will not reopen in 2011 as its backers had hoped. The reason - the money isn't there.

On Oct. 28, Harold Workman, President of the Kentucky State Fair Board, announced it is not happening because the financial options they have in front of them haven't reached fruition.

Workman says they are going to try and get some support for the park when the General Assembly meets early next year and they have extended the interim leasing agreement for the Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Company.

In September, Ed Hart, President of Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment, announced his vision for the park. That included refurbishing rides, creating a new front entrance and doubling the size of the water park. But that vision has a price tag of about $50 million. Hart was hoping a state revenue bond could make that dream happen.

We asked State Representative Ron Crimm, a Republican from District 33 in Jefferson County how likely that might be.

"This is a short legislative session this year and we can't or we're not supposed to re-open the budget," Crimm continued, " I understand with communications from the Governor's office that this may be a necessity for us to do."

But for now, even if an effort gets underway to open the park, it's not going to happen soon enough to be open next year, which has former employees upset.

"We all saw what Ed Hart put out about the $50 million and 16 new water slides and a new roller coaster and everybody got hyped up about it," said Troy Shortridge, a former Kentucky Kingdom employee. "And now it's hitting us and it's back to square one again where we're stuck."

"Really sad because you know a lot of people like to come here the kids," said Laura Upton, former catering manager of the park. "A lot of people depended on it for jobs also."

Hart says his team is disappointed, but they plan to keep pushing to reopen the park. Hart says it takes time to prepare the rides and buildings for opening, but he believes it will happen.

Crimm says the Jefferson County caucus will meet with Workman and Hart in November to figure out how much money they need and what avenues they can pursue.

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