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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Thousands are descending on the Fair and Expo Center for the opening of the Kentucky State Fair.
But they're going to a place that could look very different this time next year. That's because the Fair Board is in talks to build a new hotel at the State Fair site.
Board members hope the hotel, combined with the new Kentucky Kingdom will help them climb out of a financial hole.
The opening of the Kentucky State Fair means, of course, the annual appearance of Freddie Farm Bureau, livestock, rides and lots of food.
"Fair food is better, I think, than normal food," said Sherrie Miller of Louisville.
But as the gates open for the State Fair, there is work going on behind the scenes right now that could be almost as important to the long term future of the Fair and Expo Center.
The chairman of the state fair board today confirming negotiations for a 600 room hotel to be built on the spot of this abandoned state building near Gate 1
"We do have people that we're talking with. We're trying to get things finalized, get everybody on the same path. I can tell you that I'm very positive about it. I think we have a great avenue for the future," said Mark Lynn.
A pedway would attach the hotel to the South Wing. And the fair board hopes it would be a pathway out of its $5 million deficit.
"Everything that we do that helps increase revenue will in the long term be a big asset for us, and this is just another piece of the puzzle," said Lynn.
Another big piece -- Kentucky Kingdom. It's scheduled to re-open before next year's State Fair. But how the amusement park might incorporate into the Fair is still undecided.
"We haven't made final decisions yet with Ed Hart and his group as to if the Kingdom will actually be open during the Fair. And we'll talk about that as we get a little closer," said Lynn.
"They've been closed for like four years. We really need it. We really, really need it," said fair patron Brianna Miller-FLannery.
Lynn would not comment on how far along the hotel negotiations might be. But next year, fair-goers could be greeted by a big construction site.