^Yeah, I'm a bit confused as to what they think they bring to the table at this point. Why would anyone put in the necessary 10s of millions into capital improvements if they don't even get to retain ownership rights? Talk about misaligned incentives.
In recent weeks, former employees and park guests have been offering support and sharing memories of Kentucky Kingdom via the SaveMyPark.com website and Save Kentucky Kingdom on Facebook. While it’s evident the community wants our theme park restored, many don’t realize how close we are to losing Kentucky Kingdom.
We are concerned about the lack of urgency and transparency among our elected officials regarding negotiations with prospective operators and a general sense among city and state government that someone will eventually step in and redevelop the property. The fact is that time is running out.
Our biggest frustration is that the state has apparently decided to ignore Kentucky Kingdom’s past financial contributions and bury the results of its own economic impact study — which clearly defines Kentucky Kingdom as a key economic engine that benefits not only the city of Louisville, but the entire state. After three years of stating that the re-opening of Kentucky Kingdom is a “top priority,” Gov. Steve Beshear recently introduced the notion that “we need to see if an amusement park even makes sense” and indicated that Kentucky Kingdom’s reopening might be too risky for the taxpayers. Such statements should be a wake-up call for the community.
The Fair Board recently projected a $5.4 million deficit for fiscal year 2013 and needed $5.5 million from the state to cover its operating costs for the 2012 fiscal year. Yet Kentucky Kingdom, which could be producing much-needed revenue, still sits idle. Talk about “leaving the taxpayer holding the bag!”
Think about it: Kentucky Kingdom, while operating on state property for 20 years, never cost the taxpayers any money — it actually generated many millions of dollars for the state through lease payments, parking revenues, and other direct and indirect economic benefits. The theme park is also a key selling point for conventions, an industry our state depends on and in which it continues to invest heavily. Outside of Orlando and Anaheim, Louisville is the only other city in the US which offers convention planners not only state-of-the art exhibition space and quality hotels, but a world-class theme park — all within walking distance. Yet our elected officials continue to question whether this business makes sense!
While we are not advocates for any one operator to the state’s request-for-proposal process, we have been at a loss to learn who, besides Ed Hart and his team, intends to submit a proposal. Everything surrounding the process has been veiled in secrecy, leading us to ask whether there will ever be a public forum to hear these proposals and learn what experience potential operators may have and what their commitment would be toward our park and community.
Many of us witnessed the spectacular rise and subsequent fall of this property as it shifted from a local operator focusing 100 percent of his energy and resources toward ensuring Kentucky Kingdom’s success, to a national operator (Six Flags Corp.) that operated many theme parks across the world. Once owned and operated by Six Flags, Kentucky Kingdom did not receive the resources it needed to survive, and as a result park attendance and guest experience suffered. Kentucky Kingdom was later abandoned by Six Flags when they filed for bankruptcy reorganization in 2009.
Our group’s passion for reopening Kentucky Kingdom can be attributed to the pride many of us have in our past association with the original, local ownership, that did what was considered impossible back in 1990; reopening Kentucky Kingdom — the “formerly bankrupt kiddie park” — and grow it into a successful business, good corporate citizen, and signature theme park of international renown. However to be clear, our group is willing to support any competent operator with the funding and experience to restore Kentucky Kingdom to its rightful place as a valuable asset to this community, providing hundreds of summertime jobs for high school and college students. After all, that’s where many of us got our first job years ago!
This Saturday we are hosting a rally to gather additional input and show community support for the reopening of Kentucky Kingdom. Join us at the Executive Strike & Spare parking lot — adjacent to the Fairgrounds with the park rides as our backdrop — beginning at 1 pm. More information is available on our website http://www.SaveMyPark.com and our facebook page, Save Kentucky Kingdom.
Change the scheme, Alter the mood! Electrify the boys and girls if you would be so kind!
So, Saturday the're asking for support for Kentucky Kingdom by having people show up at the bowling alley outside of the Fairground's main entrance.
Since I'm not very busy this Saturday... I might actually go. Heck, maybe even take pictures. It all depends on whether I do go home from college tomorrow or not.
It's very hard for me to further support Kentucky Kingdom due to the Fair Board, the state, and the current condition of the park making it so difficult to reopen it, but I wouldn't mind physically showing some kind of support for a reopening. I also don't know what's going to be there, or who's going to be there, but according to the 300+ people on Facebook who says they're going I'm thinking it might be somewhat interesting.
Kentucky Kingdom supporters rally 5:26 PM, Oct 13, 2012 Written by: Dan Klepal, The Courier-Journal
More than 100 people attended a rally Saturday in support of reopening the Kentucky Kingdom amusement park, which was closed in 2009 and abandoned by Six Flags after it filed for bankruptcy .
The Kentucky State Fair board has set a next Friday deadline for proposals from developers who would reopen the park, but members of the Save My Park organization, savemypark.com and facebook.com/SaveKentuckyKingdom, say they are concerned that state politicians aren’t committed to the project.
John Mulcahy, a member of the group’s alumni committee, which is made up of people who formerly worked at the park, said they are concerned about Gov. Steve Beshear’s comments this summer indicating that the park could be torn down.
Mulcahy also said that those comments don’t make sense given that the fair board has had budget deficits the past two years, and that the state’s economic study estimates the park would generate about $11 million in annual revenue, plus new tax revenue and money taken in by hotels and restaurants near the fairgrounds.
“Why is it taking so long? It just defies explanation,” Mulcahy said. “We should all be up in arms … that a property like Kentucky Kingdom could be put in front of the wrecking ball.”
Louisville businessman Ed Hart, who was Kentucky Kingdom's chief executive for about a decade before Six Flags took over in 2000, negotiated with the Kentucky Fair Board for months in 2010 about reopening the park before talks were abruptly cut off.
After that, the owners of Holiday World made a run at operating the park before dropping the effort.
Earlier this summer, Hart announced yet another attempt to reopen the park with new partners. He will participate in the competitive proposal process; it is unclear how many other potential developers will place bids.
Louisville Metro Councilman Dan Johnson, whose 21st District is home to the park, said during the rally that Beshear was “playing politics” with the park.
“Ed Hart stood up to the task and would have had it open by now,” Johnson said. “Let’s hope the fair board gets (its) act together. I think Gov. Beshear has played politics enough with this park. It needs to be … opened now.”
Brian Smith, a community activist and self-proclaimed “roller coaster enthusiast” attended the rally and said in an interview that the process of trying to reopen the park has lacked transparency.
“The fair board has kicked the can to the far end of the road while this park has deteriorated from neglect," Smith said.
Hart has said he wants to reopen the park in 2014. Hart's group would put $10 million in equity into the park and borrow $30 million.
The economic impact study said the park's reopening would eventually create about 1,200 jobs, primarily hospitality positions and some construction employment. A economic impact study of the 4th Street Live entertainment district, released last week, concluded that hospitality jobs in Jefferson County increased by 1,300 between 2001-09, but that the county lost all that growth after 2010.
“This decline is presumably due to the closure of Kentucky Kingdom,” the report says.
As usual, my analysis is free of charge! Original enough to not steal someone else's quote as a signature
This saga will never end. I have a question for anyone who knows or has some of an idea, what rides and attractions are in good enough shape (if any) to fix and reopen.
The rides aren't even in bad shape. Inside the park, Kentucky Kingdom looks as if it has closed yesterday for the winter season believe it or not. Obviously though, the woodies and mile high falls will need some heavy work.
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