Ky. fair board, group reach amusement park deal

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 24, 2013 at 3:19 pm •  Published: January 24, 2013
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"This lease agreement is a fair deal for both our state taxpayers and for the investors seeking to operate the park," Carmicle said.

Hart said the financing essentially leaves the park debt-free.

"This allows us to take our cash and put it into the park," Hart said.

Hart said the operating group will move quickly to refurbish the rides and expand some attractions, such as the water park and plans to begin assessing the grounds early next month. All but one ride, a metal roller coaster that is in disrepair, will be reopened, Hart said.

Hart pledged to make Kentucky Kingdom competitive with Holiday World, in Santa Claus, Ind., and Kings Island in Cincinnati. Hart said Kentucky Kingdom admission would be "priced aggressively" to draw tourists not only from Kentucky, but also Tennessee and Indiana. Hart wouldn't give specifics on expected attendance, but said more than 1 million people should pass through the gates annually after the first three or four years.

"I think the pent-up demand for this park is just extraordinary," Hart said.

The lease announcement drew praise from city and state officials.

Gov. Steve Beshear called the lease a "shot in the arm" for local and regional tourism." Beshear and Metro Councilman Jim King expressed hope that the roughly 1,000 full-time and seasonal jobs the park brought to the area will return.

"The Kingdom is one of the keystones to our city," King said.

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Follow Associated Press reporter Brett Barrouquere on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BBarrouquereAP