EUREKA SPRINGS, Ark. -- The owner of The Great Passion Play met a bank's deadline to pay $75,000 interest on a loan this week. Now its park can reopen and the famous shows could resume in the spring. The next task for the Elna M. Smith Foundation is to raise $6 million over the next year to ensure the long-term viability of the 45-year-old tourist attaction.
Keith Butler, chairman of the foundation, said at a news conference on Thursday that the park itself will reopen on Friday. Tickets for The Great Passion Play shows will go on sale in the next few days.
The shows will be on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays starting the first weekend in May, Butler said. In the recent past, the park had five shows a week until it closed last fall because Cornerstone Bank started foreclosure proceedings after the foundation fell behind in its loan payments.
The Foundation raised $75,000 to meet the bank's demand that it pay the accrued interest on the loan by Wednesday. Individuals and businesses, including hotel owners in Eureka Springs, contributed the funds to try to get The Great Passion Play reopen. One hotel owner said she gets 20 percent of her bookings from people attending the shows.
The owner of Gospel Station Network, a chain of radio stations that present Christian-themed music and programs, will donate $100,000 worth of advertising over the next year to help the foundation raise $6 million to pay all its bills and have enough reserves to stay in business.