In this age of YouTube, team websites and an endless stream of information on the Internet, even the most diehard sports fans may find it inconvenient to go out of their way to read about the history of their favorite teams and players.
As a result, according to a new Wall Street Journal story, attendance at some of the nation's most hallowed sports museums and shrines is dropping considerably.
Last year only 260,000 people visited the Baseball Hall of Fame, the lowest number in nearly three decades. And attendance numbers may take another hit this year when, during the induction ceremony in late July, no living players will enter the Hall.
Dwindling attendance has contributed to financial losses for the Baseball Hall of Fame, which has operated at a deficit for eight of the past 10 years.
Experts say a variety of factors contribute to the decline in visitors to Cooperstown, N.Y. Those include an image problem connected to the sport's struggles with performance enhancing drugs as well as a lack of interactive exhibits.
"When I grew up, we had baseball cards, and if you wanted pictures of baseball players, you went and bought a package of gum and built up a set," Alan Friedman, a Baseball Hall of Fame consultant and former director of New York's Hall of Science, told the Journal. "Now, I can turn on my computer and see complete biographies, videos and evidence of any player I'm interested in. What does the museum offer me now?"
Other sports museums, like the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, and the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte have seen similar declines in attendance. They've tried to implement creative solutions, like taking exhibits on the road, boosting marketing efforts and revamping their websites, but the future still remains unclear.
One reason for optimism, at least at the Baseball Hall of Fame, is that donations are still strong, which helps offset the declining revenue.
"The hope," said Jeff Idelson, the president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, "is that we've bottomed out."
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