Recently, and quizzically during a pandemic and impending civic bankruptcy, the mayor & city council moved forward with plans for an aquarium at the Zoo.
Accordingly . . .
SPECIAL THANKS TO KICK-ASS TKC READERS WHO PRESSED CITY OFFICIALS FOR MORE DEETS ABOUT AQUARIUM FINANCING & MONEY DOWN THE DRAIN!!!
Sure, the response is mostly hype but it offers more details than we've seen so far about this pricey project that will only help to keep this town financially underwater.
Check-it . . .
“Kansas City Zoo Aquarium Primary Points”
Thank you for raising your concerns over the construction of the aquarium while the City is facing such difficult financial challenges. The $75M project is being built without any City funds. It is a combination of Zoological Tax District and private funding. If this project did not move forward, none of this money could be used for anything else except zoo improvements. Attached are the details I asked the Zoo to put together. While some are concerned about the timing, the economic impact and jobs this will create are an overall benefit to the City. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. And, again, thank you for sharing your concerns.
The following and attachments were sent to me by the Zoo last Friday . . . I’ve also included them in the attached document called “Aquarium Primary Points”...
Aquarium Funding. There is no city funding involved in this project. This $75 million project will be funded through private donations and the Zoological District, which was created through a 1/8 cent sales tax in Jackson and Clay counties. Private funders will provide $30M and the Zoological District will provide up to $45M. In addition, we will be raising $10M for an endowment through private funders.
City Involvement. The Kansas City Zoo is a city-owned asset. The city has a contract with Friends of the Zoo (FOTZ), a nonprofit organization, to manage the day-to-day operations for the city and as part of that agreement, FOTZ must seek approval for any project expected to cost $500,000 or more as it impacts the value of the asset. This is why the Zoo asked for Parks and Recreation board approval of the project this past week in order for to move forward with the project. In this case, the aquarium will add $75 million of value to the city’s asset with no additional investment on the city’s part.
Economic Impact. Adding an aquarium at the Kansas City Zoo will create jobs. Approximately 100 jobs would be needed just to support the new facility and its associated operations, based on past Zoo growth. Adding an aquarium will also result in an additional $14 million in tourism to the Kansas City economy every year, bringing the zoo’s total annual economic benefit to $43.8 million. Of the projected 1.4 million annual visitors, 248,929 will stay overnight. The Aquarium will also grow visitation from those who live 20 to 50 miles outside the city.
Track Record. The Kansas City Zoo was founded in 1909. While there were some ups and downs, the Zoo has made significant strides since Friends of the Zoo began managing the asset in 2002. It has continued to grow and improve, including delivering a balanced budget every year. Since 2006, the Zoo has:
- Invested more than $96 million in capital projects. Particularly since the passage of the Zoological District tax in two counties in 2011, progress has been continuous including Helzberg Penguin Plaza, Orangutan Canopy, Stingray Bay, and Elephant Expedition, which opened this past May.
- Increased visitor satisfaction from 31% to 71%.
- Grown the number of annual visitors from 387,000 to about one million guests per year.
Developing . . .