Ark Encounter, a creationist theme park slated for construction in Northern Kentucky, may soon be eligible for state tax incentives that would allow its planners to recoup up to $37 million of building costs. The attraction has already received preliminary approval from the state tourism board.
After receiving support from Democratic Governor Steve Beshear early this month, Kentucky's Tourism Development Finance Authority laid down some conditions under which Ark Encounter's financial backers could receive compensation for up to 25 percent of their $150 million investment in the religious theme park.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that a new feasibility study will be conducted by the state, following news that the park's backers had never provided a copy of their own findings to Kentucky officials:
The Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet will employ a third-party consultant to do an independent analysis of financial projections for the park.
If the consultant finds the project won't generate enough economic activity, the board could decide not to grant the full 25 percent return on the $150 million investment over 10 years. It also could decide not to grant any incentives.
The amusement park, which will include a three-stories high, two-football-fields long replica of Noah's Ark on part of its 800-acre ground, follows up on the Creation Museum, another Kentucky attraction also created by religious group Answers in Genesis that has now attracted more than a million visitors.
A recent study found 40 percent of Americans still believe in creationism, a statistic that suggests a large pool of potential customers for the religious theme park.