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The controversial Ark Encounter theme park has received preliminary approval to apply for $37 million in tax breaks.



While officials were announcing the impending Eagles concert at the KFC Yum Center, they may have cranked up Hotel California a little too loud. Hundreds of teachers and professors were inside the rooms behind the press conference at the Convention Center grading AP exams. Advanced Placement exams taken by students all over the country are graded in Louisville. Educators from various schools and colleges are brought in to spend their days reading essays in the Convention Center and their nights spending money in the city.

A Dartmouth professor blogged about an AP reading trip to Louisville two years ago, and it seems like drudgery mixed with fun. If you’re looking to discuss the Kansas-Nebraska act with strangers, this is the week to give it a try. Bring it up at the Seelbach Bar and report back to us.

WFPL’s Stephanie Crosby covered Kentucky Fair Board President Harold Workman‘s presentation to a Metro Council committee Thursday. Workman discussed the future of the Kentucky Kingdom site. But during the meeting, he said something else, which Stephanie reporter for WFPL–conventions scheduled for Nashville this week have been flooded out, and local officials are hoping to nab some last-minute relocations.

“We did the same thing when Katrina hit New Orleans, we were very successful in fact,” says Workman, “and we think we will be on this occasion. It’s unfortunate that this has happened; we wouldn’t want it to happen in Louisville, of course. But someone is going to house those conventions, and host those, and we think Louisville is the right place for them, particularly if they want to be in this part of the country, they might as well be here.”

The Louisville Convention and Tourism Bureau recently commissioned a study to find out how Louisville can improve its tourism industry. Possible improvements include:

  • A downtown destination center
  • An updated plan for where to put retail and housing downtown
  • One or more new, large sculptures (like the giant Louisville Slugger)
  • Trolley Service
  • Light Rail
  • Re-opening Kentucky Kingdom

Democratic mayoral candidate David Tandy has long talked about improving the tourism industry in Louisville, and while no one has laid out how to pay for it, Tandy is among several candidates proposing light rail in Louisville. Tandy released this statement today, in response to the study:

As the only candidate in this race who has presented a vision for making the expansion of Louisville’s tourism industry a priority, I was pleased to see that the study conducted by Convention Sports & Leisure drew the same conclusions and proposed many of the same strategies.  We must begin right now to invest in tourism in order to compete with cities across the country.

That is why I have proposed an aggressive marketing campaign to provide travelers from around the world with information about what Louisville has to offer and at the same time presented a comprehensive plan for downtown redevelopment which will make Louisville a more attractive destination for conventions and tourism.

Among Democrats, Jim King has said he also supports a stronger tourism industry and Burrell Farnsley has proposed 24-hour bar service as a way to attract and keep visitors and locals downtown.

The comments on Kentucky Kingdom news stories seem split. Some people don’t care if Six Flags leaves, others want the park to stay operational.

So let’s start off the weekend with a poll. What are your thoughts? Feel free to elaborate in the comments.

I just talked to gubernatorial candidate Otis “Bullman” Hensley. He pointed me to his plans for a dolphin splash park in Kentucky.

It’s a combination mega-attraction, aquarium and economic stimulus in rural Kentucky.

Louisville History and Issues administrator Steve Magruder thinks so.

From LH&I:

…there’s no question that this is an exciting project and will make Louisville an even better place to call home. But to call it a “sensation” seems a stretch (oh wait, WHAS’ report came out during Sweeps), when many other cities have similar pedestrian bridges, and the ability for this bridge to attract out-of-town visitors may be very small.

In my view, the new Big Four Bridge will be an attraction mainly for the locals. It will provide yet one more thing to do in this increasingly vibrant town.

(You can reply to Magruder on his post.)

Magruder’s point makes sense. It seems like the bridge will be popular for locals looking for a mini-adventure or for visitors who are already here, but I don’t quite see how the bridge will attract new tourists. Sure, it might be an extra incentive, but I don’t imagine it being an attraction on its own. But then again, I may not understand these things. When I lived in St. Louis, I was always surprised to meet tourists who just came to town just for the Gateway Arch.

Here’s the roundup, Yarmuth town hall included. It’s late, and we’ll be a little bit late with the posts tomorrow.

Here’s what we reported on today:

Remember when we covered the film incentives for Kentucky? Well…they’re being put to use.

From Business First:

The Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority Tuesday approved $800,000 in tax credits for a Disney Films subsidiary planning a movie about the legendary racehorse Secretariat.

The credits were the first granted under legislation approved earlier this year during a special session of the Kentucky General Assembly.

No word if David Mamet is writing the Secretariat movie for Disney, too.

First Louisville tried a light show, then a bus. Now…a kiosk.

Despite accusations that Indy “Sucks,” Louisville Convention and Tourism Bureau President and CEO Jim Wood says it’s all good-natured joking and there’s no animosity between the two cities.

We informed them several days in advance of what we were doing. They were fully supportive; they thought it was a great idea. They wish they could do the same thing down in Louisville.

Wood also says the kiosk’s $32,000 price tag will likely be recouped through tourism in the coming year. He told me they’d have a better idea of how that’s going near the end of summer.

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