According to a report from the Friendly Atheist, founder Ken Ham must report monthly attendance at his Biblical entertainment complex as part of an agreement with the town of Williamstown where they pay a “safety fee” for each ticket sold.
The entertainment and educational complex that features dinosaurs interacting with humans, saw attendance this past September drop to 69,207 paying visitors — a 17 percent drop from last year’s same-month attendance of 83,330.
As Hemant Mehta notes, that follows a trend of a declining — and accelerating — drop in attendance from last years numbers.
Those declining numbers come even though public schools are using taxpayer funds to send school children to the museum to learn about creationism — a belief that all of creation is orchestrated by a divine being.
According to American’s United for the Separation of Church and State, Ham’s Ark Encounter has been the beneficiary of millions of dollars of local and state tax breaks and subsidies.
“To help cover the cost of emergency services the small town [Williamstown] now must provide to the visitors of a large amusement park within its borders, city officials last year initiated a 50-cent fee on the tickets sold at the ark and a few smaller amusement venues in Williamstown. (This is the fee Ham and his company, Answers in Genesis, tried to avoid paying last summer by briefly switching the park’s status to nonprofit – a move that would have had a crushing long-term impact on property tax generation for the community but also nearly resulted in the park losing its $18 million state tourism subsidy.) “Americans United reports.
Additionally, “Ark Encounter wasn’t entirely privately funded. Williamstown issued $62 million in junk bonds to help finance the park’s construction and agreed to forgo 75 percent of the park’s property taxes for 30 years to pay back those bonds. As previously mentioned, the state gave the park $18 million in subsidies, plus paid about $10 million to improve nearby roads. A Grant County economic development agency essentially donated 100 acres of land for the park.”
You can see the official numbers showing the collapse of attendance at Ark Encounter here.