This Is The Place Heritage Park was established in 1957, and it was managed by the Division of Parks and Recreation until 1998. In an effort to generate more private funding, the park operation was then transferred to This Is The Place Foundation, a non-profit corporation, which continues to manage the park today. The park was to be funded by private donations, park revenues, and an ongoing appropriation of $800,000 from the General Fund. However, the foundation went through serious financial problems, which led to requesting additional state funds, and resulted in restructuring its leadership in 2006.
Under the new leadership, the park saw some immediate changes, including an increase in revenue, visitors, volunteers, the number of open buildings, and expansion of the season. In the last few years, however, likely impacted by the economic slowdown, the growth in revenues, visitation, and volunteers has tapered off, and even experienced a decline.
The park has organized its revenue sources in three major categories: Public Funding, Private Giving, and Earned Revenue. The total revenues to the park peaked in FY 2009. The main reason for the increase in FY 2014 is $1 million payment from the Hogle Zoo for building a parking lot on the park's property for zoo visitors, which is reflected in the Earned Revenue category.
The Public Funding category for FY 2014 includes $800,000 from the General Fund, $40,000 from the ZAP (Zoos, Arts, and Parks) Tax, and $50,000 from Salt Lake City.
The Private Giving category includes donations from organizations, such as the Eccles Foundation and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Earned Revenue category includes revenues from admissions, building rentals, food, gifts, and membership sales, and has been increasing every year since FY 2010. The main reasons for this increase are higher revenues from building rentals and retail sales in recent years.
The number of visitors to the park drastically increased between 2008 and 2010, peaking at 255,100 (see red line in the chart above). Since then, the visitor number has fallen to below 200,000 in FY 2014. Park management attributes this decline in visitors in the last years to fewer free events at the park and to increased competition from new exhibits at the Hogle Zoo, the Museum of Natural History, and the Point of the Mountain.
Due to the high interest from historic and religious groups, the park has enjoyed the unique opportunity to attract many volunteers. The volunteer labor translates into significant savings in personnel costs for the park. The hours of volunteer service increased from 10,670 in FY 2006 to 32,351 per year in FY 2010. But the number of volunteer hours have been declining since FY 2010.