Just two days ago, we reported that Louisville was moving closer toward the goal of reopening it’s beloved amusement park, when Kentucky’s Tourism Development Finance Authority announced the approval of incentives for Bluegrass Boardwalk, which planed to reopen the former Kentucky Kingdom amusement park at the Kentucky Exposition Center.
Today, it appears that our enthusiasm was premature. Bluegrass Boardwalk announced on its website Friday that it is abandoning its plans for the park, saying: “We’re so sorry to share this sad and disappointing news. Thank you to all who expressed their unbridled enthusiasm in this project.”
“We entered into this discussion last October with full expectation of leasing the park,” said Bluegrass Boardwalk CEO Natalie Koch. “However, we have come to the realization that leasing a park rather than owning it would take us too far from the business model my family has followed for more than 60 years.”
Koch indicated that she and her partners were financially prepared to meet the challenge of reopening the abandoned park, however the many layers of governmental regulations and stipulations ultimately caused them to withdraw. Koch said she and her partners believe reopening the Louisville park is still a worthwhile project and they wish the future operator well.
“It’s been a lifelong dream for my family to operate a second park,” said Koch, whose family owns and operates Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana. “It’s hard to walk away from what we believed was a winning partnership for Kentucky and our team. But at the end of the day, the terms of the project did not fit our business model. It was time to withdraw.”
A letter terminating the proposed lease agreement was delivered to the Kentucky State Fair Board this afternoon.
Earlier this year, the Koch family signed a 50-year lease to run the Louisville park with hopes of reopening it next year. They said it would be renamed Bluegrass Boardwalk and that all or most of the park's attractions will "need to be completely refurbished to ensure safety." The park closed two years ago amid bankruptcy proceedings. It was formerly operated by the Six Flags amusement park company.
In a statement, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said, “We are disappointed with today's news and will engage quickly with state officials to try and find a new partner for the park."
WHAS-11’s Joe Arnold reports: