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Without State or City Bonds, Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Company to Regroup

Louisville businessman Ed Hart will discuss the various options for renovating and re-opening the Kentucky Kingdom theme park Wednesday.

The park closed last year when Six Flags declared bankruptcy. Hart, who owned the park before Six Flags, then proposed a spate of improvements and a plan to re-open the facility by next summer. Hart’s proposal relied on the General Assembly’s approval of a $50 million bond to finance the renovations.

The legislature didn’t take up the issue. Hart then entered into talks with state and local officials about the possibility of Metro Government issuing a $20 million bond for the park, which would still allow for a 2012 re-opening, but without many of Hart’s proposed improvements. Those plans also fell through, though a spokesperson for the Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Company says the proposal was one of several put forward.

It’s not known whether the park can still re-open next year. Hart is expected to talk to the media at 10:30 Wednesday morning.

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Kentucky to Purchase Bonds to Fund Student Loans

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

Kentucky will purchase bonds to keep state student loan programs afloat until federal help arrives.

Governor Steve Beshear says the state will purchase 50-million dollars in bonds to ensure short-term financing for student loans. He says the action is necessary because the national credit collapse is crimping the availability of student loan dollars.

“With this influx, we are confident that every student who needs a loan, will receive a loan,” says Beshear.

Beshear believes Kentucky may be the only state using bonds to restore student loan funding. He says the funding mechanism is safe because the federal government is promising to purchase the loans. The proposal still needs approval from a state agency and a legislative oversight committee. That could come early next week.

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Arena Authority To Hear More Funding Options

With funding for Louisville’s downtown arena in question, the arena authority will meet Tuesday to explore new financing options.

$360 million in bonds for the project were postponed last Thursday after it became more likely that the bonds’ issuer, Assured Guaranty, would have its credit rating downgraded.

Tuesday, Goldman Sachs will present the authority with several different ways to back the bonds, including construction loans and line-of credit financing. But, authority chairman Jim Host says Assured could still issue the bonds.

“We still have them as one of the alternatives, but we want to look at other possibilities before we make a final decision on Assured,” says Host. “They’ve been great to work with but what we don’t need at this point is a downgrade.”

Host says if Assured isn’t downgraded soon, the authority will likely stay with them for the project.

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Arena Authority Postpones Sale of Bonds

The Louisville Arena Authority has postponed the sale of 360-million dollars in bonds. The check presentation had been set for today.

The special meeting was delayed when Moody’s credit rating agency put the company insuring the bonds on credit watch – meaning its credit rating could be downgraded. That temporarily halted the closing of the deal for the downtown arena project. Arena Authority Chairman Jim Host says he remains confident in the bond insurer – Assured Guaranty.

“The issue – I think – is the fact that Moody’s has a problem with the whole insure industry. It doesn’t have to do with Assured as much as it has to do with the industry,” says Host.

Host says bond underwriter Goldman Sachs has confidence the deal will go through and another meeting has been set for next Wednesday. If that doesn’t happen, Host says they have backup plans, but would not disclose them.

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Arena Bonds Depend On Fluctuating Market

Bonds for the new downtown arena in Louisville could be issued as early as this week. But exactly when that will occur is unclear.

The arena authority will meet Wednesday afternoon. Investment bank Goldman Sachs could announce the sale of bonds at the meeting, but authority chairman Jim Host says the bond market is too shaky to guarantee that will happen.

“At this point we are still working on that and hopefully we’ll be in a better position of being able to talk about that Wednesday,” says Host.

The authority plans a $360 million bond issue for the project. Host says as of Friday the market appeared favorable for the sale.