After nine months of planning, Bluegrass Boardwalk, Inc. has withdrawn its proposal to re-open the Kentucky Kindgom theme park. According to a release, Bluegrass Boardwalk owners the Koch family—who also own Holiday World in southern Indiana—say leasing the park from the state would not fit in their business model. Further, CEO Natalie Koch cites "the many layers of governmental regulations and stipulations" as a reason for withdrawing.
The announcement comes shortly after the company pushed back the planned re-opening to 2014, and days after the state approved up to $3.9 million in tax incentives for the project. The park closed in 2009 when previous owner Six Flags went bankrupt. This is the second failed attempt to re-open the park since. Businessman Ed Hart, who owned Kentucky Kingdom before it was purchased by Six Flags, was in talks with the state shortly after the park closed. The full statement:
Following nine months of planning to reopen Louisville’s shuttered amusement park, Bluegrass Boardwalk, Inc. today withdrew from the project.
“We entered into this discussion last October with full expectation of leasing the park,” says 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 says 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 says 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,” says 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.
The mayor's office has released the follwing statement: "We are disappointed with today's news and will engage quickly with state officials to try and find a new partner for the park."