Optimism that Kentucky Kingdom could open in a year or two - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Optimism that Kentucky Kingdom could open in a year or two

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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear says he's very optimistic about the prospects for the reopening of Kentucky Kingdom, and he recommends that the Kentucky State Fair Board accept a proposed lease deal tomorrow.

Kentucky Kingdom could reopen within a year or two, according to the head of the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau, James Wood.  It's a signal that Ed Hart's group and the state are near an agreement.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau has agreed to provide sales and marketing support for the park.  That includes everything from articles in the annual Louisville Visitors Guide and newspaper inserts to social media efforts including e-newsletters and podcasts.

The bureau will also promote Kentucky Kingdom to conventions, including family reunions, student groups, and religious conferences.

It's been an up and down roller coaster ride for Kentucky Kingdom, which closed after its 2009 season.  

Ed Hart's investment group submitted a bid in October of last year to the state's Finance and Administration Cabinet to reopen the park. Hart's group is believed to have been the only one to have submitted a proposal.

Hart's previous two offers to reopen the park were rejected by the state. A proposal back in August asked the state to sign off as a guaranteer on a $30 million bond. Beshear said at the time that he could not accept that:  "Putting the state on the line for amounts like that probably is a deal breaker," he said then.

Back in June of last year, at the last minute, the owners of Holiday World pulled out after they considered taking over the park, saying partnering with the state didn't give them enough flexibility in how to run the business.

Even if an agreement is reached, the park would not be able to reopen until 2014 at the earliest, so by this summer it will be four seasons that the park will have been idle.

Kentucky Kingdom is on Thursday's Fair Board agenda.

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