It was surprising to learn that attendance at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis is down and the $380 million makeover of the grounds has not resulted in making it more inviting to tourists and Missourians.
The St. Louis Business Journal in its latest issue reported on the world-famous 630-foot-high Arch and found it is attracting fewer visitors than it did before the renovation project.
We have not visited the Arch since the renovation project was completed, but we have heard nothing but positive reports about the project, which was completed for the most part in 2018. But fewer people have visited the Arch and taken trams to the top since the project was completed. The Business Journal said about 2 million people visited the Arch in 2018, down from the 2.5 million that visited in 2010. Attendance in 2019 was about 39,000 more than in 2018. The Arch attracted a peak of 3.6 million visitors in 1996, according to the National Park Service.
Visitors to the Arch bring money to downtown St. Louis and are an important economic driver for the city.
Several reasons given for the drop in attendance are the flooding and the fact that attendance has been down at all national parks.
Voters in the city and county approved a $90 million sales tax increase for the project, which was named the CityArchRiver and other public grants kicked in an additional $69 million. State tax credits for the renovation totaled $15 million. Added to that was about $200 million in private funds. An expected 25 to 33 percent increase in visitors was predicted.
We believe the renovation project was a good investment and in the long run will meet goals. The Arch dates back to the 1960s and has been one of the main attractions in St. Louis since that time.
We have found it interesting that some native St. Louisians have never been to the Arch. There should be a move to draw the locals to the Arch.