Kentucky Kingdom doesn’t have much time
The deadline for Ed Hart securing funding the reopening of Kentucky Kingdom, but it is supposedly close to being secured:
“The Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Company (KKRC) is close to an agreement on private sector funding of nearly $29 million to reopen the Kentucky Kingdom theme park. However, it needs the Kentucky State Fair Board’s (KSFB) cooperation to finalize the deal.
The private funding represents a significant increase in the financial commitment previously agreed to by Ed Hart, CEO of KKRC. A year and a half ago, the Kentucky State Fair Board (KSFB) approved Mr. Hart and his company as its choice to reopen and operate the theme park, a state-owned facility that closed in 2009.
Although a lease agreement has yet to be finalized, the KSFB and KKRC are operating under an Interim Agreement that expires at the end of this month.
According to Hart, “The state and local governments must decide how to proceed. We have yet to reach a lease agreement with the Fair Board. We thought we had, but only recently did the Fair Board make it clear that they do not intend to adjust the lease terms to reflect the influx of $28.6 million of private funding. We hope the Fair Board can work through this issue.”
Last year, Hart made a $3-million loan to the state to buy the property belonging to Six Flags. In addition, Hart has spent more than $1 million to date to pay for the ongoing costs of security, repair, maintenance, and other park-related expenses.
The new financing package consists of a $23-million bank loan guaranteed by the Al J. Schneider Company and $5.6 million in equity provided by Ed Hart. “We couldn’t have pulled this off without the support of the Al J. Schneider Company. It’s a perfect example of Main Street businesses working together to make things happen and create jobs.”
The project still requires funding from the public sector to reach the $50-million price tag for redeveloping and reopening the park, as outlined in the plan prepared by the KKRC and approved by the KSFB last year.
“The KKRC and the Schneider Company are confident that Kentucky Kingdom will once again be the number one paid tourist attraction in the state and an important economic development catalyst for the area,” said Hart. “Therefore, we have increased our commitment and redoubled our resolve to reopen the park, which would create more than 1,000 full-time jobs for our community.”
Mary Moseley, President of the Al J. Schneider Company, said, “We have great confidence in Ed Hart and his team of professionals. They’ve turned failed theme parks around before and we know they can do it again.”
The state owns the 60-acre theme park and commissioned an economic impact study of the facility last year. The study, prepared by AECOM, found that a reopened Kentucky Kingdom is important for jobs and economic development in the region. It concluded that the theme park will contribute as much as $250 million in taxes, rent and parking revenue to the city and state and as much as $3 billion in total economic impact for the community over 20 years.
Because Kentucky Kingdom, with all of its assets, is owned by the state, the redevelopment plan always has been structured as a partnership between the public and private sectors. All new rides, buildings, and attractions, paid for with both public and private funds, will become the property of the state.
Hart said, “Assuming a lease agreement is reached, the KKRC’S goal has always been to reopen Kentucky Kingdom in 2012. However, we are subject to the production schedules of the national and international suppliers who will provide new rides for the park, as well as the parts to refurbish existing rides. Time is running out.”
Kentucky Kingdom is located on the grounds of the Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center at the junction of I-65 and I-264 near the Louisville Airport.”