Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Big Trouble for "Ark Encounter"

In November I covered funding problems at the proposed "Ark Encounter" theme park in Kentucky. In an attempt to raise funds, the park's developers were selling bonds - that they had no legal obligation to ever pay off on. Perhaps not surprisingly, this ridiculous scheme hasn't proven to be quite the windfall that the developers expected, and now the park may fail completely if the remaining bonds can't be sold by February.

The northern Kentucky city of Williamstown in December issued taxable debt for affiliates of Answers in Genesis, a Christian nonprofit, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Even though $26.5 million of securities have been sold, the project needs to sell at least $55 million in total to avoid triggering a redemption of all the bonds, Ken Ham, the nonprofit’s president, said in an e-mail to supporters yesterday. Without the proceeds, construction funding will fall short, he said.

“We still need those Ark supporters who weren’t able to purchase the Ark bonds at closing to prayerfully consider participating in a secondary bond delivery at the level they had indicated to us,” Ham said. “Will you please step out in faith with us?”

The problem with "Ark Encounter" stems from the first year that Kentucky's Creation Museum was open. The museum drew far more patrons than the organizers expected, so they started making bigger plans for the Ark exhibit. However, attendance fell off dramatically after that first year, leaving them scrambling for funds. I've often speculated that many of those who visited that first year only did so to see how ridiculous the place was, and if that's the case, there probably isn't nearly as much legitimate interest in a creationist theme park as the developers originally were led to believe.

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