INDIANAPOLIS -- The Children's Museum of Indianapolis could see a big bump in attendance from its $24.5 million outdoor attraction slated to open this month.
The new Riley Children's Health Sports Legends Experience includes 12 outdoor and three indoor exhibits with activities from a variety of sports. The museum hopes the 7.5-acre expansion gives families more reason to visit during the warmer months, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported.
"Weather certainly is a factor in our attendance," said Lisa Townsend, the museum's vice president of marketing and external relations. "So we are hoping that when we have really beautiful spring and summer days, people are going to think more about the Children's Museum, whereas in the past they may have chosen to do something else outdoors."
The museum is located north of downtown Indianapolis and is among the city's top attractions, drawing an average of about 1.2 million visitors annually.
Townsend declined to say how much of an attendance or revenue boost the museum expects to receive from the expansion, but tourism experts think visitor numbers could rise to as much as 1.5 million this year.
"This is a significant addition to the facility; this isn't just a new exhibit coming into the same old exhibit hall," said David Pierce, associate professor of sports management for the Sports Innovation Institute at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. "It's a completely new experience."
The Sports Legends Experience will open March 17. Tickets for both the museum and outdoor experience range from $16 to $37 depending on how far ahead they're purchased, Townsend said. Tickets for just the outdoor experience can be purchased for under $10 but are good only from 5-8 p.m.
Visit Indy also plans to begin promoting the museum's newest addition by incorporating it into a regional marketing campaign that will target 10 cities, stretching from Louisville, Kentucky, to Chicago and Cincinnati to Detroit, Visit Indy Vice President Chris Gahl said.
"The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is a key driver for Indy tourism, year in and year out," he said. "Anytime (it) can add additional experiences, it only helps Visit Indy increase tourism numbers."