Attendance Up at LST 325, But Will It Continue?

Published 06/06 2014 06:19PM

Updated 06/06 2014 06:30PM

With the possibility LST 325 could end up calling Peoria, Illinois its new home, we take a closer look at the Evansville attendance numbers and what could be done to improve them.

Officials are hopeful a proposed change of scenery can bring more people in.

Sometimes, you don't know what you've got until its gone.

"I think a lot of people have come down, thinking we are going to leave," says Capt. Robert Jornlin of  LST 325 says attendance is up ten percent from this time last year. But the recent spike isn't helping enough.

"You think as the only World War II ship and museum within 500 miles of another vessel, a lot more people would come around and see the ship," he says.

In it's first year in Evansville, board members say nearly 20,000 people toured the ship.  But annual attendance has dipped to about 9,000 each year.  Officials say that number is normal, but not as high as they would like.  But Jornlin says they see more visitors when they take the ship to other cities for five-day tour stops than they see in Evansville all year.

"We haven't had the school kids in Evansville as much as we'd like to. The school kids we get are from outside of Evansville."

But if the LST 325 stays, will more visitors go? Jornlin says better advertising will help.  But so would allowing the ship to dock at Tropicana's spot when or if land-based casinos are allowed in Indiana.

"I don't know why not. I can, most of the states have done that. Illinois's putting them in land. Iowa's putting them on land," he says.

Chris Donahue of the board of directors says if the casino plan, which would allow the LST to go downtown, doesn't pass, then they could look elsewhere after five years.

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