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Science Station Financial Crisis

Dave Franzman

KCRG-TV9, Cedar Rapids

Story Created: May 19, 2006, 6:33 PM; Updated: 7:15 PM

[Note: This material is copyright by KCRG-TV9, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval http://www.kwwl.comof KCRG-TV9.]

CEDAR RAPIDS - A financial crisis looms at the Cedar Rapids Science Station and IMAX Theater. Late Friday afternoon the museum's leaders made a major move to go public with their problems. The recovery plan laid out the problems and needs for potential donors. But with more than a million dollars in debt, it may be up to the public to save this local attraction.

The exhibits mixing fun with science and the IMAX Theater still attract 85,000 people a year. But that's down from a few years ago when this was the only IMAX showing in Iowa.

Science Station Executive Director Joe Hastings told KCRG-TV9 News, “We have some significant debt, which if we don't tackle threatens parts of our program.

The mortgage on the IMAX Theater and other debts now add up to $1.2 million. Net income was $300,000 in the red in 2005 but expenses should be closer to income this year. Some first time visitors thought this was an attraction worth preserving.

Sully Christian Principal John Krogstad told KCRG-TV9 News, “If people see value in what they're doing, I think the money will come.”

8th grader Aaron Van Dyke told KCRG-TV9 News, “Yeah, but I think it should be a little bigger.”

And that's part of the recovery donor plan too. Organizers are shooting for $3.5 million over three years. The idea is wipe out debt but also add more exhibits, maybe a Riverwalk Café and other things. That might encourage visitors to make more frequent return trips.

Science Station leaders aren't sure what happens if donors don't respond. Bankruptcy or other major cutbacks are last resorts. The Science Station has discussed the situation with the city council, but not asked for anything specific yet. The museum is getting $25,000 in hotel-motel tax money this July.

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