State Sen. Joan Bray, a Democrat from University City, is sponsoring a bill to allow cultural attractions in Forest Park to charge visitors.
The measure also would apply to the St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis Science Center and the Missouri History Museum.
From Josh Schroeder:
Why is it, dear readers, that you can’t take something like zoo attendance and say “Look at all the potential revenue we’re missing out on!” The reason, of course, is that there are a lot of people who will not pay to go to the zoo. They will find something else to do instead. Charging admission will actually cause current zoo revenues to drop! The current model is that while people don’t spend their money at the door when they arrive, many pay for food and beverages, shirts, toys, etc. And there are premium things like the penguin room which does charge an admission. But those are premiums – the basic zoo is free.
People hate to be taxed, but they love to spend. Don’t tax people’s admission – let them freely and gladly pay you for premiums and increased value!
Just in case the message has not gotten through, the main thing is this: the best way for the zoo to make money is to get as many people in the door as possible (and then for more of them to gladly spend their money on things they want). You want higher attendance, not lower! But the best way to prevent people from attending is to charge admission.
Forest Park and the Art Museum are brilliant uses of public funds and the return investment beyond out weighs the cost of keeping them free. State Senator Joan Bray’s idea to start charging for admission to these landmarks (our zoo is one of the only free ones in the country, a major tourist attraction) will cap the revenue potential that these two facilities currently bring to the area. Horrible, horrible idea. I do not want to see Joan Bray destroy two St. Louis institutions.
In a statement released Monday afternoon, Dr. Jeffrey P. Bonner, President and CEO of the St. Louis Zoo, rebuffed a bill proposed by Missouri State Senator Joan Bray (D-University City) that calls for charging non-St. Louis County residents for admission in the Zoo-Museum District.
“The St. Louis Zoo does not intend to charge admission. We are committed to remaining free to all, including non-residents of St. Louis and St. Louis County, consistent with the language of the original legislation. We are not aware of the impetus behind the recent Missouri Senate amendment, but we are not in support of it as it pertains to the St. Louis Zoo.”