Mayor announces plan to save Kentucky Kingdom

Published: May. 5, 2011 at 1:11 AM EDT|Updated: May. 5, 2011 at 1:42 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
Mayor Greg Fischer
Mayor Greg Fischer
Steve Rowland
Steve Rowland

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – New developments are giving hope that Kentucky Kingdom may re-open next year.

For weeks Mayor Greg Fischer and his financial team have worked to come up with a new proposal. Now he says he has one that is fair to all parties involved, including the taxpayers.

"We want to get the park open," said Fischer.

For two years now, the rides at Kentucky Kingdom have not moved and hundreds are without jobs, but a new plan could save the park. "I treat these deals as if it were my own money," said Fischer. "I would enter a deal like this personally."

Here's how it works: $17.5-million would be issued in city bonds, backed by parking fees, payroll taxes collected, and a third party investor.

The in-depth proposal was presented to Kentucky Kingdom investor Ed Hart and Kentucky State Fair Board President Harold Workman.

The money would be issued over a 20 year time span, with an annual debt payment of $1.5-million.

"As long as Ed Hart believes in the projections he's given us, this is great deal for him and it's a great deal for the city," said Fischer.

Steve Rowland, the city's chief financial officer, says if the proposal is accepted, Hart would invest $7-million up front. By year four of the plan, it would require a $4-million investment in the park each year for the remainder of the bond.

Hart told WAVE 3 he is reviewing the proposal and released this statement:

"Reopening Kentucky Kingdom has always been seen as a collaborative process among four parties:  the city, the Fair Board, the state, and my company, which would operate the park.  If one party does well, all of the other parties should likewise do well.  Most important, we all have to keep in mind that the community would also benefit from the park's reopening, which would create more than 1,000 jobs.  The overriding principle in these discussions has always been that one party should not shoulder the risk while another party reaps the reward.  We will evaluate the city's proposal with this in mind."

"We've put a proposal on the table asking them to review it and get back to us with any suggestions they might have for modification," said Rowland.

Workman released this statement:

"We are glad the Mayor is committed to reopening Kentucky Kingdom in 2012.  Of course, this is a continuing negotiation, so we are heartened to hear the Mayor say this is not a 'take it or leave it' proposal."

From the mayor's office:

The city would commit its portion of the occupational tax revenues collected at Kentucky Kingdom toward the bond payment, up to $1 million, and the park's operators would commit parking fees generated by the park toward any difference between the taxes collected and the $1 million.

If the park generated $200,000 in occupational taxes its first year, for example, Kentucky Kingdom would contribute $800,000 from parking fees to close the gap.

The remaining $500,000 of the $1.5 million annual installment would be paid by a third-party investor with a financial interest in Kentucky Kingdom, said Steve Rowland, the city's chief financial officer, who structured the deal with Fischer and a team of financial advisors.

 (Copyright 2011 WAVE News. All rights reserved.)