State approves incentives for reopening Louisville amusement park [Attractions]

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Louisville moved a step closer toward the goal of reopening it’s beloved amusement park today, when Kentucky’s Tourism Development Finance Authority announced the approval of incentives for Bluegrass Boardwalk, which plans to reopen the former Kentucky Kingdom amusement park at the Kentucky Exposition Center.

Kentucky Kingdom.jpgThe Koch family, which operates Holiday World theme park in Santa Claus, Indiana, signed a 50-year lease earlier this year to run the Louisville park with hopes of reopening it next year. They have said it will 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.

Bluegrass Boardwalk is proposing an investment of $15.6 million and has announced plans to reopen the park in 2014. Based on projections, Bluegrass Boardwalk could be eligible for an incentive up to $3.9 million over 10 years.

The authority heard a report from Hunden Strategic Partners, the consultant hired to review the application for Bluegrass Boardwalk.

The net fiscal impact to Kentucky both on- and off-site, including the lease agreement to the Kentucky State Fair Board, is projected to be approximately $48 million over the 10-year term.

The authority considers applications under the Kentucky Tourism Development Act, which allows eligible tourism attractions a rebate of sales tax up to 25 percent of project capital costs over a 10-year period. Projects must meet certain criteria to be eligible, such as having a positive economic impact for the Commonwealth and attracting at least 25 percent of guests from out of state. The rebate is based on sales tax generated by the tourism attraction.

According to coaster-net.com, the Koch family is willing to invest as much as $20 million in the amusement park, which has been abandoned since 2009.  Opening the park would create 800 seasonal jobs and several full time positions, and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer was quoted as saying, “Our goal is to keep this open and get people employed and get our community enjoying it.”

The lease has a 50-year term with base rent starting at $400,000, and increasing every year thereafter and the Kentucky Exposition center getting small percentages after the park makes so much.

“We’re bringing our business model of exceptional safety, cleanliness, friendliness and value for families,” Natalie Koch said in the Bluegrass Boardwalk, Inc., press release. “That means free soft drinks, free sunscreen and free use of inner tubes.”  “We can’t wait to get started!” Dan Koch also said in the press release. “We’ve got a lot of work to do to get the park reopened… but we’ll get it done.”

A reminder of the way things used to be:

About Thomas McAdam
At various times I have been a student, a soldier, a college Political Science teacher, a political campaign treasurer, and legal adviser to Louisville's Police Department and Board of Aldermen. I now practice law and share my political opinions with anyone who will listen.
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