This is certain to send you-know-who into a frenzy, because it’s the first time we’ve seen a newspaper article report on the actual attendance for the second year’s operation of Ark Encounter — the creationist tourist attraction built by Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the ayatollah of Appalachia. The last time we wrote about the subject was Hambo Explains the Ark’s Attendance Figures.
The news is in the Courier-Journal of Louisville, Kentucky (not far from ol’ Hambo’s Creation Museum). Their headline is Not as many people are flooding into Ark Encounter as projected. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:
Visitors to the life-sized Noah’s Ark attraction near Northern Kentucky are sinking below the number of projected visitors advertised by the owners of the religious-themed park. The Ark Encounter sold a little more than 860,000 tickets between July 2017 and June 2018, according to open records obtained by The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes the separation of church and state.
This is what we’ve been reporting — thanks to figures provided by our clandestine operative. The newspaper reminds us:
When the park opened in 2016, park officials anticipated 1.4 million to 2.4 million yearly visitors.
Yes, we know. Then they give us the excuses provided by Hambo’s people, which you’ve seen before:
A spokesman for the park said the foundation’s figures for ticket sales are accurate but noted that it doesn’t represent how many people actually visited the park. Ark Encounter spokesman Mark Looy estimated that 1 million guests came to the Ark Encounter last year, and on busy days, between 7,000 and 8,000 people visit the park. He said attendance has been growing since the park opened two years ago. “We are like most attractions in that we don’t release annual attendance figures,” Looy said in an email. “Furthermore, one can’t look at ticket sales to come up with the grand total.”
The excuses continue:
“Thousands and thousands of young children under 5 who have visited the ark in the past two years have attended free with their families, and they will not show up in the 862,471 amount,” Looy said. Ark members with lifetime passes or annual memberships do not come up in the final ticket sales, either, Looy said.
But the Courier-Journal counters with this:
For attendance to be 1 million visitors at the ark park, 14 percent of all its attendance needs to be free or non-ticketed, according to The Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Very nice — they did the math. Then the newspaper reminds us:
When the park was being built, it won more than $18 million in tax incentives from the state, which outraged numerous groups, including The Freedom From Religion Foundation, because of the prospect of the state government interacting with a religious project. The state tried to take away the tax credits because it contended the park was being used for religious indoctrination instead of a tourist attraction. But a federal judge ruled in favor of the Ark Encounter in July 2016, granting the park the right to the tax incentives.
The court proceeding didn’t go quite like that. Early in the case, long before the trial began, the judge issued a temporary injunction preventing the state from denying the tax goodies. That is sometimes done to preserve the status quo in order to prevent damage being done until the case can be decided. At that point, the Governor stepped in and caused the state to withdraw from the case. It wasn’t a court victory on the merits of Hambo’s case — see Ken Ham’s Ark Wins First Round in Court.
Our last excerpt is rather surprising:
After its first year, the Kentucky government cut the Ark Encounter a rebate check for $1.8 million. [Huh?] “It is a shame that Matt Bevin and the Commonwealth of Kentucky continues to pay for this Christian ministry,” said Edwin Hensley, a co-organizer of Kentucky’s Freedom From Religion Foundation. “Last year Kentucky wrote a check to Ark Encounter for $1.8 million, refunding almost 80 percent of the $2.28 million sales tax revenue.”
Wow! We thought the sales tax kick-back to Hambo was supposed to be 25% of the sales tax paid by the ark. Something’s not right here.
Anyway, there you are. It’s one thing to tell wild tales about a young Earth, Adam & Eve, the Flood, etc. It’s quite another to tell tales about finances where the state is involved. Eventually, the truth will be known.
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