Cooperstown Crier - Your Source for Hometown News - Cooperstown, Baseball Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame

July 25, 2013

Baseball shrine facing declining attendance

The Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is open year-round, but the majority of business is done in the summer months when tourists flock to the village.

The biggest fan fest is during Induction Weekend, which will begin Friday. However, there is skepticism about how many people will attend since the baseball writers threw a strikeout on the election ballots. According to organizers, the focus will be on creating as much excitement as possible.

Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson said, “We’ve turned the weekend into a New York centric theme, which should be appealing to baseball fans throughout the state.”

The nonprofit organization has an even bigger problem that goes beyond the weekend, however; it has been facing gradual declines in attendance rates throughout the years. Last year, only about 260,000 visitors came to the museum — the lowest attendance since the mid-1980s.

According to Idelson, attendance has mirrored the economy. He said as the economy has down turned, cultural institutions, among many others, suffer equally.

The Cooperstown museum is not alone. It is among several sports halls of fames where attendance has been sagging in the past few years. Museum professionals have credited the reasoning to exhibits that aren’t interactive enough, weak online presences and image problems stemming from players’ use of performance-enhancing drugs.

“In this day and age, the state of the economy, gas prices and the viability of the region in which you exist are all important factors; as is the health of the sport. Thankfully the health of our sport today is strong, and that is a positive indicator moving forward,” Idelson said.

Induction Weekend does not have a massive impact on attendance numbers at the baseball shrine, according to Idelson. However, he said a good Induction Weekend certainly helps give it a “little bit of boost.”

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