A 510-foot long replica of Noah's Ark from the Book of Genesis is coming to Northern Kentucky.
Creation Museum founder Ken Ham announced yesterday (Feb. 27th) that his organization Answers in Genesis had raised $14.4 million in private donations toward the $24.5 million needed to build the ark alone. The massive replica, which would be the largest timber-frame structure in the U.S., is to be the centerpiece of an estimated $120M "Ark Encounter" park set on 800 acres outside the city of Williamstown, Ky.
“We’re going to begin construction, and this is going to be great for the area,” Ham said in a webcast Thursday night, adding that the park would open in 2016. “Let’s build the ark.”
The first phase of the park, expected to cost $73M, is being funded by a combination of private donations and an offering of $62 million in municipal bonds from the city of Williamstown. Officials for Answers in Genesis aren't saying how much of the $63M in bonds they've been able to sell, which will be repaid from park revenues - and city officials are quick to point out that Williamstown is not liable for the money should the project collapse.
A model of the proposed ark to feature inside the Ark Encounter park. Credit: Answers in Genesis
In addition to the ark, the park will also eventually include "a pre-flood themed area, live animal shows and a Tower of Babel featuring a special-effects theater and a 1st-century village," according to USA Today.
Ham, who estimates more than 2 million people will visit the park each year, credits a surge in donations from his recent debate with scientist Bill Nye; as well as interest in the upcoming Russell Crowe action-adventure "Noah."
“The date of my debate with Bill Nye had been on our calendar several months before we knew the final delivery date of the Ark bonds," said Hamm. "But in God’s timing, not ours—and although the bond registration had already closed before February 4 and no more bonds could be purchased— the high-profile debate prompted some people who had registered for the bonds to make sure they followed through with submitting the necessary and sometimes complicated paperwork.”
In response, Nye told the AP that he was "heartbroken and sickened for the Commonwealth of Kentucky" after hearing the news that the project was moving forward.
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