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Ed Hart plans to have park open by May 2014
02-13-2013, 09:23 AM
Post: #1
Ed Hart plans to have park open by May 2014
A week into assessing conditions at the long-abandoned Kentucky Kingdom amusement park, investor Ed Hart says he “fully expects” to reopen the park on May 24, 2014.

“We are very encouraged by what we’ve seen, but obviously, there is a great deal of work to do” to get the park ready for business, said Hart, president of Kentucky Kingdom LLLP. He heads the investment group that was recently granted a lease by the Kentucky State Fair Board to reopen the park that last operated in the fall of 2009.

Hart held a news conference Tuesday morning at the Kentucky Exposition Center in front of the closed main gate to the park. He introduced the top management staff he has hired and gave a report on his preliminary assessment of the park’s condition.

Hart, who had previously operated the park, noted that the review includes looking at about 100 buildings, 40 rides and 60 acres of property. The preliminary review, he said, has included some “surprises and setbacks,” but he added that they have been mostly “small things” that are not expected to deter him from reopening the park on schedule.

The lease gives him 90 days to arrange financing -- approval of incentives are pending with state and metro officials -- and make a final decision to proceed. In the interim, the fair board continues to pay for park security and upkeep.

Under the lease, Hart and his investment partners -- businessman Bruce Lunsford, lawyer Ed Glasscock and the Al J. Schneider Co. -- have agreed to invest $45 million in park improvements by 2017. That includes $20 million in partner equity and $25 million in loans. The group is to spend at least $1 million a year on park upgrades.

He acknowledged that readying the rides may not be cheap. He said that one coaster alone, a wooden ride called Thunder Run, may need up to $1 million of repairs to make sure it is both safe and a smooth ride.

“We intend to have a complete makeover of Kentucky Kingdom,” Hart said. He affirmed that he plans to add two major rides and double the size of the water park for the opening. Hart said he will soon begin to line up contractors and suppliers, intending to use as many local providers as possible.

Hart said he plans to hire about 50 full-time park staff in the near future, with up to 1,000 seasonal employees when the park begins operating.

Hart introduced his top management staff that will feature people with long experience in the amusement-park industry. Several who have worked with Hart previously at the old Kentucky Kingdom or other parks he has operated. The group includes:

• John Shanrock, who will be the Kentucky Kingdom general manager and had worked for 30 years with the Cedar Fair organization.

• William Hargrave, director of technical services and capital improvements. He has been in management positions with the local Sam Swope automotive organization.

• Dave Scharfenberg, manager of technical services, who worked for Hart at the old Kentucky Kingdom and has expertise in ride maintenance.

• Lesly Birkner, director of operations, whose background in the amusement industry includes human resources, training, operations analysis and policy development.

Other hires include Marty Cogan as director of community relations, Cathy Sullivan as chief financial officer and Gaylee Gillim, Hart’s spouse, as general counsel and head of the safety committee. In addition, Carol Monheimer will be the park’s chief of staff, and Victoria Strange will be executive assistant.

Hart operated Kentucky Kingdom for nearly a decade before selling it to Six Flags for around $80 million in the late 1990s. Six Flags abandoned its lease on the park in early 2010 and filed for bankruptcy.

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07-03-2014, 01:39 AM
Post: #2
RE: Ed Hart plans to have park open by May 2014
Only one proposal was submitted from a group led by Ed Hart, a former. Hart said if the state acts soon the park could be open in May 2014, but its vegetable pickers. The operator would have the ability to back out of the lease within 90. thanks
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