There’s an article over at Sports Business Journal — sorry, subscription only — about the financials and attendance for the Hall of Fame.
The money part sounds somewhat more dire than it may be in practice. The joint has lost money for seven of the past nine years, including a $2.36 million loss for 2010 (the last year when full numbers were available) and a $4.3 million loss in 2009. Obviously not great, but as the article notes, it’s misleading given that the Hall is a non-profit and a lot of its income comes from donations that, while counted in the year received, are used to fund operations for several years in some cases.
More interesting to me are the attendance numbers:
Museum attendance has slid from 352,000 in 2007 to 301,755 in 2008, 289,000 in 2009, 281,000 in 2010, and a projected figure of between 265,000 and 270,000 for 2011. Annual attendance topped 400,000 in peak years of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
A lot of the recent slide is probably due to the recession. If you can’t travel as often, the trip to way-out-of-the-way upstate New York is probably high on the list for sacrifice.
I imagine some of it, too, has to do with casual fans moving away somewhat from baseball in the mid-90s with the labor strife and the overall rise in the popularity of other sports. Casual fans still go to the games in droves because it’s a relatively low opportunity cost kind of pursuit, but they’re not going to make a special point to go to the Hall. Sports overall have become more fragmented.
All of which makes me wonder — as others have before — what attendance would look like if the Hall were, you know, someplace near a major population center. It’s an academic point given how deeply the Hall’s management and board are invested in the town of Cooperstown, but it would be a pretty gigantic increase if the place was in New York or Chicago, I’m sure.