Steve Beshear and the Ark Encounter feasibility study

As we mentioned two weeks ago (and has yet to be mentioned by ANY media in Kentucky), Ark’s Encounter’s “extensive independent feasibility study” by “the renowned America’s Research Group” that Steve Beshear has repeatedly cited as the reason the state is supporting this project with $37.5 million tax incentives…. was conducted by Ken Ham’s fundamentalist friend and business partner.

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Yes, no one at the Herald Leader or Courier Journal has felt the need to share this tiny bit of information with their readers. I guess that’s not important.

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Even after the Courier Journal interviewed Beshear recently and he gave us these gems…

Beshear: If these projections that these studies show about this particular project are accurate, they’re talking about $150 million in investment, they’re talking about 900 new jobs. But to me, most importantly from a tourism standpoint, it looks like it will attract about 1.6 million visitors every year, 80% of the from out of state.

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And, you know, it looks like if these projections are accurate, that this will be one of the biggest economic development projects in the country.

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Q: (Have you looked at the numbers?)

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Beshear: Well, we certainly have looked at the numbers….

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…they didn’t bother to follow up on them.

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“These projections in these studies”? Is there more than one, Governor, or is that just a slip of the tongue? You’ve “looked at the numbers”? Does this mean that your staff has actually read the ARG feasibility study, or have they just read their summary on a piece of paper, and therefore “looked at the numbers”? Do you take at face value numbers created by Ken Ham’s business partner for the benefit of Ken Ham receiving $37.5 million in tax breaks?

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Again, one might consider these valid questions for Governor Beshear. Unless you work at the Courier Journal or Herald Leader.

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But speaking of “feasible numbers”, let’s take a look at other parks in the area, and whether ARG’s estimates seem feasible.

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The Creation Museum averages over 300,000 visitors per year. And this is an all year round attraction, as the exhibits are inside no matter what the weather, unlike Ark Encounter. In fact, the major differences between the two are:

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1) Ark Encounter is an outdoor attraction, meaning that this will be a mostly seasonal attraction
2) Ark Encounter has a giant boat, whereas the Museum has animatronic dinosaurs. I wonder which one kids will like more.
3) The Creation Museum is right next to 2,000,000 people. Ark Encounter is in the middle of nowhere.

Yet “ARG” expects us to believe that Ark Encounter will get 6-7 times the visitors that the Creation Museum gets. Interesting.

OK, how about King’s Island? King’s Island, which is nearing it’s 40 year anniversary, had 3 million visitors in 2009. King’s Island, of course, has about a million rides and a water park for kids to go nuts in. And despite the fact that Ark Encounter has no rides (just a giant boat), ARG expects people to believe that it will receive over half the annual attendance of King’s Island in it’s first year, and then 2/3 of its attendance in the following years.

Does this even pass the smell test?

How about the Cincinnati Zoo? In 2008, this zoo in the heart of a city of 2,000,000 people had 982,043 attendees. Yet ARG expects us to believe that Ark Encounter in Grant County will double the zoo’s attendance in it’s second year.

Have Steve Beshear’s people really seen these numbers?

How about Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville? Before rides starting chopping little kids’ legs off recently, in 2005 it had 850,000 visitors. So a park with tons of rides and water park in the middle of a metropolitan area of over 1,000,000 people had 850,000 attendees a year, but ARG expects a park with a giant boat to have twice that amount in it’s first year.

So what will it be, Herald Leader/Courier Journal? Do we ask our Governor specific questions about this feasibility study and the $37.5 million in tax breaks (and national ridicule) that have sprung from it, or do we just take these crazy people and their crazy numbers at their word?

The ball (unfortunately) is in your court…

2 comments for “Steve Beshear and the Ark Encounter feasibility study

  1. July 4, 2012 at 6:04 am

    This is a great blog. Thanks for sharing.

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    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. John Meyers
    August 8, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Joe Sonka : I like your reports; but you undermine your cred seriously when you keep misusing simple words: stop writing “it’s” when you mean “its”. For example, “…King’s Island…nearing it’s 40 year anniversary” — you want to say “its 40 year…”

    “…King’s Island in it’s first year” — you mean “in its first year”.

    “It’s” means only one thing : “it is”. For example, “it’s a huge stretch of the imagination that Ark Encounter will open at all…”

    Thanks and keep pursuing this story — the Ark will sink like a stone…

    John Meyers

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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