Deadline passes for Kentucky Kingdom proposals, many questions remain


by Claudia Coffey

Posted on October 19, 2012 at 6:38 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 19 at 6:40 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- The clock is now ticking on the search for a potential operator for Kentucky Kingdom. We are  now past the deadline for interested parties to submit their proposals to the state. Meanwhile, the cost to repair the park gets larger and a date for reopening further away.
As Kentucky Kingdom sits closed for three straight summers, deteriorating, and even more expensive to repair than ever, a state review committee is gearing up to review a list of potential buyers. Will one finally emerge to save what was once a gem of the city? Former employees with "Save Kentucky Kingdom" are skeptical.

"We are still in the dark just like everyone else that has followed the saga of Kentucky Kingdom. There is definitely resistance to sharing with those confirmed with the future of the park like some very basic information, " saidJohn Mulcahy with "Save Kentucky Kingdom."
Friday was the deadline for potential operators to submit to the state a plan to reopen the park. In August, Governor Steve Beshear had this to say which had many doubting the state's commitment.
"I thnk we need to figure out whether an amusement park is in our future here. We have tried and tried and things don't seem to come together," said Governor Steve Beshear.
The Finance and Administration Office in Frankfort says they can't reveal who's in the game or not at this point.
"Until the time of contract award, information is preliminary and cannot be disclosed, which includes numbers and names of bidders.  Also, at this point we are not going to speculate on whether or not bids are submitted or no one is awarded a contract."
So far Ed Hart, the former operator, is the only one who has said he will submit a bid. He plans to reveal more details in a press conference next week. Until then he made this comment about his potential competitors.
"If such a company has responded to the state with a business, marketing, and financial plan that is superior to our proposal, the state should by all means consider that company as a potential operator for the park."
Speculation continues to mount over whether the park will ever reopen. Especially after the Koch family, who owns Holiday World, abruptly backed out earlier this year. Organizers of "Save Kentucky Kingdom" made up of former employees of the park are cautiously optimistic but already are suspicious that another deal may fall through. And then what?
"I think  they could do whatever they want to do and that's what concerns us," said John Mulcahy.

A review committee made up of state employees will review all the bids and select the top three. Then they will negotiate the best bid with one potential operator.

This is expected to be completed within two months. If a deal doesn' work out, it's anyone's guess as to what will happen next.

Many insiders who will not comment on the record have suspicions about whether the state wants the park reopened at all.