COLORADO SPRINGS — The United States Olympic and Paralympic Museum saw a decline in the number of visitors last year, but other numbers and the overall trajectory of the museum is finally headed in the right direction.
Pam Shockley-Zalabak is the acting CEO of the museum. During a city council presentation this week, she acknowledged opening during the pandemic, losing a CEO, and other outside factors made for a rough period for the museum since it opened in 2020. She said the good news however, is things are taking a turn for the better.
She told city leaders that last year, the museum saw a net profit of more than $1.7 million dollars, despite losing $1.4 million the year before.
“We reorganized the staffing structure, and a number of other inefficiencies. We raised money to pay off debt,” said Shockley-Zalabak.
The museum also saw a 55% increase in the number of events they hosted. That included the Beijing Winter Fest celebration, athlete meet & greets, appreciation weekends, and the Hall of Fame Induction ceremony.
“It’s very exciting. So there have been many, many activities that contribute to our turnaround in the relevant picture, community support, sponsorship dollars,” said Shockley-Zalabak.
But there has been a decline in visitors from 115,000 in 2021 to 82,000 in 2022.
“After the invasion of Ukraine, spikes in gas prices, tourism fell off,” said Shockley-Zalabak.
Prior to that, there was also a turbulent economy during and after the pandemic. But Shockley-Zalabak and city leaders are optimistic about the museum's future.
“All of these factors together made a very rough beginning for a brand new museum,” said Shockley-Zalabak. “We've turned it around and I'm optimistic… The return on that initial investment is good and strong, and it is already returning these operating dollars.”
Shockley-Zalabak is also hopeful to see a turnaround in tourism this summer, and she expects the numbers of visitors to rise.
The museum also saw an increase in the number of students participating in a program called “Becoming Your Personal Best." It's a project to build resiliency and skills among youth, and this year more than 1,300 local students participated.
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