ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – As St. Louis Rams fans consider life without the team, numbers show millions are finding something to do other than go to a football game.
The American Association of Museums says more people go to museums in the country each year than to all major league sporting events – about 850 million a year.
The Saint Louis Zoo says attendance is up over last year, from 3.07 million in 2014 to 3.2 million in 2015.
The Fox Theatre says attendance in 2015 was 433,772, up from 416,899 in 2014, and a spokesman for the St. Louis Symphony tells KMOX 2015 ticket sales are up overall this season, which began in September, and trending ahead of last year. The holiday concerts in December 2015 alone were up more than 10 percent from last season, and classical sales were up 3 percent.
The Missouri Botanical Garden has seen over a million visitors for each of the last two years, and the Muny reports attendance increased 4 percent, from 343,516 in 2014 to 357,780 in 2015.
Katie O’Sullivan, public information officer for the Missouri Botanical Garden, says for three years running, the garden has attracted an additional 100,000 visitors in the winter with the Garden Glow event.
She says ”about 60 percent of visitors are from St. Louis and 70 percent of members are from city and county. But those attending the Lantern Festival came from all 50 states and several countries because the event is so rarely seen outside of Asia.”
Only the Missouri History Museum saw a slight drop in attendance, from nearly 497,000 in 2014 to about 439,000 in 2015. A spokesman says breaking 400,000 in back-to-back years has never happened in the 150-year history of the museum. And the museum says attendance in 2014 was a 63 percent increase over 2013. The spokesman points out that the Chicago History Museum only has 272,000 visitors by comparison.
Leaders at the Missouri History Museum say they’ve been able to attract more visitors by putting more emphasis on local history with more exhibits created in-house instead of relying on one big exhibit each year, as has been the standard practice around the country.
Each venue tells KMOX that they had several dates rained out or delayed, and would have seen even higher 2015 attendance figures had it not been for the wet weather.
Creating new events and focusing on ticket pricing they say has helped to boost attendance.
While local venues could not say whether losing the Rams will increase their bottom line, they do say St. Louis has a rich arts, cultural and tourism industry that only seems to be growing.
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