Attendance expected to meet estimates in center’s second year

By Corene Brisendine

As the Flint Hills Discovery Center transitions to new leadership, officials say attendance is on track with projections and on par with that of last year.

“We are heading into our busy season,” said Pamela Kulokas, outreach coordinator for the center. “I’m real optimistic.”

Kulokas said the goal is to have 60,000 people attend the center per year. She said last year, the center met that goal and this year is looking to do the same.

She said as of May 31, the center had had 23,686 general-admission attendees. She said while the facility has hosted 3,000- 4,000 people for special events and programming, those numbers are not “officially” counted.

Kulokas said even though attendance through May puts the Discovery Center at only 39 percent of its goal, the center’s busy season, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, has just started. She said the center has had several tour buses stop at the center this month and next month will probably be just as busy.

The Discovery Center opened in April 2012. The $24.5 million project was funded with sales tax revenue (STAR) bonds issued by the State of Kansas and repaid by a portion of the sales tax collected within the downtown redevelopment district.

The center’s operations are funded primarily through admission fees, gift-shop sales, membership and other revenues. It also receives funds from donations, grants and corporate sponsorships, as well as 1 percent of the “bed tax” collected by local hotels.

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