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A Look into Future Finances
Friends of Belle Isle Aquarium
March 2005

The Recent Past: New Information

Aquarium attendance and admissions revenue:


                                     Attendance                               Admissions

Feb. 2004                     4,027 (201/day)                        $  9,849 ($   492/day)

Feb. 2005                     9,432 (472/day)                        $26,982 ($1,349/day)

Difference                    + 5,405 (271/day)                     + $17,133 ($857/day)           

% Difference                + 134%                                     + 174%

The above increases from February 2005, over the previous February, are due to the last handful of days in February, or about 20% of that month’s duration. These dramatic increases, in attendance and admissions revenue, show a strong favorable response over a short period of time regarding the public’s fondness for, and support of, the aquarium. These reported increases are during the first few days after which the public became aware of the aquarium’s situation (via mass media reporting of City Council meetings, Mayoral announcements, editorials, etc.). The above reported response can be attributed to the public’s reaction to several messages. One message that the public received is that the aquarium very soon will close its doors according to City officials. Another message received by the public is that other City officials want to defer the closing date of the aquarium in order to gather more information which may, possibly, result in the identification of funds to keep the aquarium open. Still another public message is the announcement of a grass roots effort to raise awareness and funds to keep the aquarium open, although with an uncertain outcome at best. 

During only the last days of February 2005, the amount of revenue (and pledges) received, as a direct result of the announcement of the aquarium’s closing, amounts to nearly 10% of last year’s net operating costs ($384,000) for the aquarium:


            RECENT REVENUE

Admissions revenue increase from previous February:                                $17,133

Pledges by individuals via FOBIA website 2/25/05 – 2/28/05:                        $10,483

Cash / Checks from individuals to FOBIA 2/25/05 – 2/28/05:                        $  6,250

Total revenue from last few days in February 2005:                    $33,866



What about revenue estimates for periods longer than the last few days of February? It is unknown whether the above rate of February’s increase will increase or decrease in the future. For example, on the one hand, public support could wane in the face of an administrative closure of the aquarium; on the other hand, large corporate donations (yet to be explored) could come forward, or the City could re-order its budget priorities, or the grass roots effort could multiply.  What is certain is: (1) the above revenues reported for the month of February only represent a handful of days, not a full 30-day period; and (2) the above revenues do not include corporate donations.  If the rate of February’s reported revenue, above (due to a four-day period, or one-fifth of the month) were projected for a monthly period, then monthly attendance would be about 27,025  (5,405 x 5) and monthly admissions revenue would be $85,665 ($17,133 x 5). 

Revenue Projections (not including corporate donations)

Type of Revenue

4 Days: February 25-28, 2005

30-Day Projection

(Column 1 x 5)

12-Month Projection

(Column 2 x 12)

Pledges from Individuals




Cash/checks from Individuals




Admissions Revenue




Corporate Donations

$        0

$        ?

$              ?






Additional Costs to Re-Start the Aquarium after dormant period

$530,000         Budget for last 12-month fiscal year

- 145,820         Revenue for last 12-month calendar year

$384,180         Net Operating Cost for recent 12-month period

  200,000         Acquisition cost (est.) to obtain same animals currently in the aquarium

    88,300         2-month start-up costs (before public is admitted)* 

$672,480         Total net operating cost for first year (14 months) after dormant period,

including additional costs to re-start the aquarium

         75%        Percent increase over typical annual net operating cost

* Note: This estimated start-up cost extrapolates a two-month period from above net operating cost

            and does not assume any special expenses due to dormant period, e.g., plumbing repairs to

tank seals that deteriorated during dormant period without water, or to replace old water

valves that may leak after being turned on. It does not include any capital expenses, such as

a new roof.