Kentucky Kingdom will not open in 2012

Ed Hart
Ed Hart
Harold Workman
Harold Workman

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The front gates at Kentucky Kingdom may remain locked up until 2013 because of inaction to form a public-private partnership.

Ed Hart, CEO of the Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Company, gave a presentation to the Fair Board's financing committee Thursday morning. He said he is committing $1 million to maintain and upkeep the park.

"The public sector has yet to put in the first dollar," Hart said.

The state would own the theme park and all of its assets, even those paid with private financing. Previously, Hart announced the availability of $29 million in private funding. The Al J. Schneider Company pledged to guarantee $23 million in bank loans and Hart committed $5.6 million in equity, leaving a gap of $20 million.

The delay? Hart is waiting for the Kentucky General Assembly to appropriate the rest of the money - $20 million.

According to Susan McNeese Lynch, a spokesperson for Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Company, the park cannot be opened until 2013 because there is no lease signed with the Fair Board.

Therefore, Hart said his company can't order new rides, equipment and complete construction and testing until at least 2013.

Hart said if they fail to "ink a contract" within the next five months, it could cause further delays.

The current interim agreement expires at the end of the month. Harold Workman, president and CEO of the Kentucky State Fair Board, said there's a possibility to extend negotiations.

"We think he is the best to redevelop the park. We knew that from day one when we selected him. We think his team has the expertise to get done what we think needs to be done with Kentucky Kingdom," Workman said.

The General Assembly reconvenes in January 2012 to begin budget talks to debate the $20 million needed to reopen Kentucky Kingdom.

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