Kentucky Kingdom will not re-open until 2012 - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Kentucky Kingdom will not re-open until 2012


By Bennett Haeberle WDRB-TV Fox 41 News

LOUISVILLE, KY (WDRB) -- Kentucky Kingdom will not re-open until at least 2012, and that's if all the finances are in place, according to a spokeswoman for the property owner.

The gates at the former Six Flags amusement park have been padlocked since February when the park's parent company rejected a lease offer from the Kentucky State Fair Board.

The park will need a $50 million bond issue from the state to re-open by spring of 2012, according to a spokeswoman for Ed Hart, the Louisville businessman who agreed to take over Kentucky Kingdom.

Hart released a statement Thursday saying in part "Kentucky Kingdom is like a small city. It takes time to prepare it for opening. You can't just flip a switch and turn it on.

"We share in the disappointment that the park will not be ready to open next spring. For our part, we are proud to be the operator of choice and will certainly do our best to bring Kentucky Kingdom back as soon as is reasonably possible."

Former worker Troy Shortridge is still jobless. He goes to college full-time but worked at the park for 10 years, starting at age 15. And by 21, we was a full-time maintenance worker on the park's rides.

"It's very sad. It's sad for all the workers here. We need something. This community needs someplace to go for their kids... it's really sad news," Shortridge said.

A spokeswoman for Hart said the bond money would be used to double the size of the water park and add a major marquee ride like Chang, a ride that was dismantled more than a year ago.

Any bonds issued would have to be approved by state lawmakers.

Rep. Tom Burch, D- Louisville, says in this down economy the chances of that happening are "slim."

"1 to 10 and ten being the very best. I would say a 1," Burch said in an interview.

Those like Troy Shortridge say it would be worth the investment.

"The park has been sitting idle for a while and the rides due to a toll with the weather for them not being running. It's going to take quite a bit a money for them to get them running again."

Both Ed Hart and Harold Workman, the head of the fair board, were unavailable for comment.

Representative Jim Wayne, D- Louisville, whose district includes the fair grounds, had a different opinion than that of Burch.

Wayne sits on the bond oversight committee and said it might be worth the investment if Hart can prove the park would have long-lasting benefits.

Hart will likely make that pitch before the budget committee sometime next year.


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