New Plan Proposed For Kentucky Kingdom

Aug 16, 2012

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- There's a new plan to develop an abandoned amusement park in Louisville.

The Courier-Journal reports three Louisville business leaders joined developer Ed Hart in a $40 million bid that would reopen Kentucky Kingdom in 2014. A previous proposal by Hart to reopen the facility failed after he was unable to raise nearly $20 million he said he needed from local and state officials. The new plan seeks no funding from the state except tourism tax credits.

The park has been closed since 2009, when Six Flags pulled out after filing for bankruptcy.

Kentucky State Fair Board Chairman Ron Carmicle told the newspaper on Wednesday that he was unaware of the new proposal, but assumed it would be considered.

Hart's group, which is doing business as Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Co., is comprised of Mary Moseley, CEO of the Al J. Schneider Co. that owns the Galt House and Crowne Plaza near the park; Bruce Lunsford, CEO of Lunsford Capital; and civic leader Ed Glasscock, chairman emeritus of the Frost Brown Todd law firm.

"We intend to do this right," Glasscock said in a statement. "We want to restore Kentucky Kingdom to its former position as the No. 1 paid tourist attraction in Kentucky. Our $40 million will get the job done."

Moseley said the park is important to local tourism and hospitality industries and provides hundreds of jobs for young adults.

"This is a strong partnership ... who deeply care about this community and its quality of life," she said.

Lunsford added, "We don't need to go outside the state to find a good operator."

The most recent bid to reopen the park fell through when the Koch family, which owns Holiday World in Santa Claus, Ind., pulled out of negotiations to reopen the park citing extensive requirements to get incentives from state and local government.

Carmicle said told the newspaper on Wednesday that Gov. Steve Beshear wants the fair board to seek competing proposals from potential operators. He said the board received several inquiries after the Holiday World proposal fell through, but he declined to name the companies.

Carmicle says the board will retain "complete authority and control" over the park.