LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- The Kentucky State Fair Board is seeking to team up with additional corporate sponsors -- both large and small businesses -- for the state fair.
Fair Board CEO Rip Rippetoe tells WDRB News how he is trying to get the Expo Center operations, including Freedom Hall, back on firm financial footing.
"We are looking at finding businesses who want to come and be a part of the state fair experience," said Rippetoe.
Every August, about 600,000 people attend the fair, so it's a chance for companies around the region to showcase what they do to a large audience.
"If you come in as a corporate sponsor, you'll have an opportunity to enhance your brand and become part of a great fan experience, and be part of something that is the entire heritage of what it means to be in Kentucky in the middle of August," said Rippetoe.
Since he became CEO of the Fair Board 16 months ago, Rippetoe has been looking for ways to bring in more revenue.
Once self-sustaining, the Fair Board has relied on taxpayer dollars, to the tune of about $5 million last year, to balance its budget since the Great Recession.
The Fair Board also took a big hit when U of L basketball moved downtown to the KFC Yum! Center and Kentucky Kingdom abruptly closed.
But now, with the amusement park soon to reopen, better days should be ahead.
Says Rippetoe, "Kentucky Kingdom brings in a lot of energy to the campus. It's bringing people back. Our goal is to move as close to self-sustaining as we possibly can."
Rippetoe says the board's business plan is not only to increase revenue but to become a more efficient operation and improve its infrastructure.
He says it's inevitable that the old Cardinal Stadium will be razed.
"It's just a matter of when," he said. "It's about timing and it's about budget."
He says plans are still in the works to build a hotel on the expo property which will also bring more money to the Fair Board operation.
"We are still negotiating on the hotel, but we are not at a point where we can make any kind of announcement at this time," he said.
The board plans to soon hire a consultant to come up with a new master plan to chart the future of the expo center.
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