Fair Board approves lease extension for Kentucky Kingdom - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Fair Board approves 60-day lease extension for Kentucky Kingdom developers

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Kentucky Kingdom's facade (2012 file photo). The park has been closed several years, but state officials hope Ed Hart and other developers are able to re-open the park soon. Kentucky Kingdom's facade (2012 file photo). The park has been closed several years, but state officials hope Ed Hart and other developers are able to re-open the park soon.
The Kentucky State Fair Board met on April 24 and approved a 60-day lease extension for Ed Hart and other investors while they raise more money. The Kentucky State Fair Board met on April 24 and approved a 60-day lease extension for Ed Hart and other investors while they raise more money.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The chairman of the Kentucky State Fair Board says he's more than 99% sure Kentucky Kingdom will re-open next May.

But first the board had to give the investors more to time to get the money they need.

The investors, led by Ed Hart, now have 60 more days to secure $45-million to re-open the park. And there apparently have been some tense negotiations over the past week, with the future of the park on the line.

Under the original lease terms, the investors were to kick in $20 million of their own cash and secure a $25 million bank loan.

Problem is, the bank would only loan $15 million.

The apparent solution; the group led by Ed Hart has obtained $10-million from an unnamed secondary investor. But the parties needed more time to finalize the deal.

Today, they got it. The Fair Board approving a 60-day extension of the lease, which was to expire at the end of this month.

"This is happening. If this doesn't happen, I will be shocked out of my gourd. We're all going to benefit from this, and I think we are a couple of signatures away from it being finalized," said Fair Board Chairman Mark Lynn.

Lynn says the park was in such bad shape, it was more difficult than the investors had hoped to secure the bank loan.

"So, you're going to a bank and saying 'Trust me. Give me $25-million, we're going to make it happen.' They got close. $15-million is very close, and I applaud them for their effort and their ingenuity in coming up with what they had to do to make this happen," he said.

Ed Hart would not do an on-camera interview. But he said today, as he has said in the past, that he's confident these gates will be unlocked next May.

"The financing is one side. We're wrapping that up. But we're not letting any grass grow under the rocks out there. We're working out there to redevelop the park. We fully expect the park to be open May of 2014," said Hart in an April 10th interview.

Lynn says he is now more certain than ever about Kentucky Kingdom's future.

"I am 99.999% sure we're moving forward fast," he said.

Lynn says since fewer dollars are now going to secure the bank loan,  more money will be available to refurbish and operate Kentucky Kingdom.

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