The Kentucky Kingdom Saga Hits a Low Point

Chang is long gone from Kentucky Kingdom, and the park will remain closed

It’s a local tragedy that no one is willing to come up with the money to keep the Kentucky Kingdom amusement park from collecting another year’s worth of rust.

Ed Hart is holding a press conference this morning to say that the plan to re-open the park is delayed, again, for at least a year, because the state and the city have failed to come up with financing to open the park. Best-case scenario is that some part of the place will open in 2012, barring a miracle.

Meanwhile, according to Hart spokesperson Susan McNeese Lynch, Hart is spending $100,000 a month to keep staff in place maintaining the rides that remain on the grounds.

Lynch said the original $50 million plan was to have included money from the state and the city, but legislators failed to address budget requests in the just-completed waste of a session. Yesterday, the city said it couldn’t help with funding for a revamped plan because it doesn’t have the money.

Hart wants to use the money to finance two new roller coasters, expand the water park and fix some infrastructure problems. He’s already put up $3.4 million, and was willing to invest $5 million to make it happen.

I’m sure Hart will be cordial and polite to the media today, but he’s got to be seething inside. He’s provided politicians with extensive statistics showing how the park will generate plenty of tax revenue to offset the state investment. There’s no doubt the park is driver for the local economy, providing thousands of jobs for youth and attracting out-of-town guests.  It would likely draw 600,000 to a million visitors a year.

Ed Hart is really good at getting his way with the authorities, and he’s not afraid of a lengthy fight. Remember, this is the guy who won millions in a lawsuit with a TV station after a 13-year battle. And he may be the only person who can ever get the park open.