Conner Prairie seeks funding to keep balloon ride flying

June 6, 2014
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

By the end of Conner Prairie’s 2014 season, about 100,000 people will have taken to the skies in its tethered helium balloon—a high-flying attraction that soared to landmark status soon after it debuted five years ago.

Leaders at the Fishers interactive history park nevertheless “thought long and hard” about replacing the balloon, which is approaching the end of its useful life, CEO Ellen Rosenthal told Town Council this week.

They ultimately determined its iconic value outweighed the $500,000 cost.

So with a new balloon “envelope” under construction in Paris (and a new balloon sponsor under wraps until next season), Rosenthal asked the council to consider increasing its annual support for the not-for-profit museum from $50,000 to $100,000.

“It’s an integral part of the community,” she said of the museum.

Conner Prairie reported record attendance of 340,000 last year and ranks among the country’s top 5 most-visited outdoor history museums, Rosenthal said. Nearly 80 percent of guests came from outside Fishers, and more than half from outside Hamilton County.

But the not-for-profit museum subsidizes 60 percent of the cost of every visit, she said.

About a third of its $10 million budget comes from ticket sales, concessions and other “earned” revenue, Rosenthal told the council. Another third comes from its endowment, and the remainder from grants and donations.

Council members seemed receptive to her pitch for more funding, but they didn’t make any promises. Such requests will be considered during the budget cycle that begins this fall, said council President John Weingardt.

ADVERTISEMENT
  • Many visitors, but...
    ...how many of those visitors come directly to Conner Prairie, spend a day there, then leave back home? Especially those visitors that come in on a school bus? The reason this is important to me is that while Conner Prairie is a huge asset to Fishers I just wonder how many people stop to have dinner, spend the night at a local hotel, or spend other money in the community outside of Conner Prairie? This is the point of convention business, right? It's not just to say we have a bunch of people driving through Fishers, but to have them stop, play, eat, sleep in Fishers. To spend money in Fishers.
    • Good comment DadinFishers
      I think you've given the Conner Prairie folks and the Town/City of Fishers folks something to collaborate on. Seems obvious from the outside, but perhaps they need to be looking for ways to promote stay & play type packages within the tourism marketing of the town/city beyond saying "hey, we have this for you to come see"......and then go downtown Indy for accommodations and dining. There is certainly an opportunity there to integrate some intentional collaborative marketing.
    • We Like It...
      OK, I'll admit, living in Fishers, we've gotten used to so much at Conner Prairie. However, whenever we have friends in from out of town, that's always a must-do. So, they're not conventioneers, but they contribute to hotels (at times), restaurants, and other local establishments. We've even had friends come in during the winter JUST to attend the hearthside suppers! So, in my opinion, Fishers needs to coordinate with Conner Prairie to ensure its continuing success...
    • Ticket Revenue
      What happened to the ticket Revenue? Did Conner Prairie not realize when they installed the attraction that it would require maintenance costs and eventually replacement? at $10/ride for children and $15/ride for adults, that's easily $1 million. Perhaps Conner prairie should look at a little better fiscal responsibility than asking for additional money from the council.
    • Scott will help!
      Just talk to Scott and he will give you all the money you need.

    Post a comment to this blog

    COMMENTS POLICY
    We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
     
    You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
     
    Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
     
    No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
     
    We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
     

    Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

    Sponsored by
    ADVERTISEMENT
    1. I am not by any means judging whether this is a good or bad project. It's pretty simple, the developers are not showing a hardship or need for this economic incentive. It is a vacant field, the easiest for development, and the developer already has the money to invest $26 million for construction. If they can afford that, they can afford to pay property taxes just like the rest of the residents do. As well, an average of $15/hour is an absolute joke in terms of economic development. Get in high paying jobs and maybe there's a different story. But that's the problem with this ask, it is speculative and users are just not known.

    2. Shouldn't this be a museum

    3. I don't have a problem with higher taxes, since it is obvious that our city is not adequately funded. And Ballard doesn't want to admit it, but he has increased taxes indirectly by 1) selling assets and spending the money, 2) letting now private entities increase user fees which were previously capped, 3) by spending reserves, and 4) by heavy dependence on TIFs. At the end, these are all indirect tax increases since someone will eventually have to pay for them. It's mathematics. You put property tax caps ("tax cut"), but you don't cut expenditures (justifiably so), so you increase taxes indirectly.

    4. Marijuana is the safest natural drug grown. Addiction is never physical. Marijuana health benefits are far more reaching then synthesized drugs. Abbott, Lilly, and the thousands of others create poisons and label them as medication. There is no current manufactured drug on the market that does not pose immediate and long term threat to the human anatomy. Certainly the potency of marijuana has increased by hybrids and growing techniques. However, Alcohol has been proven to destroy more families, relationships, cause more deaths and injuries in addition to the damage done to the body. Many confrontations such as domestic violence and other crimes can be attributed to alcohol. The criminal activities and injustices that surround marijuana exists because it is illegal in much of the world. If legalized throughout the world you would see a dramatic decrease in such activities and a savings to many countries for legal prosecutions, incarceration etc in regards to marijuana. It indeed can create wealth for the government by collecting taxes, creating jobs, etc.... I personally do not partake. I do hope it is legalized throughout the world.

    5. Build the resevoir. If built this will provide jobs and a reason to visit Anderson. The city needs to do something to differentiate itself from other cities in the area. Kudos to people with vision that are backing this project.

    ADVERTISEMENT