Approval of a new lease agreement today by the Kentucky State Fair Board moves the reopening of Kentucky Kingdom to as early as spring 2014. The investors, Kentucky Kingdom LLLP, now must secure the final private loans – worth $25 million – before the park can open. The investors have agreed to initially invest $45 million in the park, which has been closed since 2009.
Gov. Steve Beshear said this agreement is great news for the families who will visit Kentucky Kingdom and will certainly be a shot in the arm for local and regional tourism.
“This lease will also mean hundreds of jobs as well as much-needed income for the Fair Board. We are pleased that we were able to reach a mutually agreeable lease so the park can reopen as quickly as possible,” Beshear said.
The Fair Board and Kentucky Kingdom investors agreed to a 50-year lease after the state issued a request last year seeking proposals to reopen the park. Kentucky Kingdom LLLP was the only entity to submit a proposal. The lease includes a provision that will allow for the expansion of the water park at Kentucky Kingdom. The state’s Finance and Administration Cabinet negotiated the lease.
“This lease agreement is a fair deal for both our state taxpayers and for the investors seeking to operate the park,” board chairman Ron Carmicle said. “The lease protects taxpayers from shouldering private debt and ensures that the park operators have every opportunity to succeed. As soon as the private financing is finalized, the countdown begins to a reopened and reinvigorated tourist attraction.”
The rental income starts at $475,000 the first year for the Fair Board and will increase by $50,000 a year for the first 15 years of the agreement.
Kentucky Kingdom is required to spend $13 million in 2013 and 2014 to get the park open. It must spend another $7 million on the park through the 2016 season. After 2017, it must spend at least $1 million annually on the park.
Kentucky Kingdom will seek state tourism development incentives through the Kentucky