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Corvette Museum's twentieth anniversary to draw thousands

By Monica Spees Bowling Green Daily News

Bowling Green can expect 10,000 visitors this week for the National Corvette Museum's 20th Anniversary Celebration.

The event runs from Wednesday to Sunday and coincides with Thursday's grand opening of the NCM Motorsports Park. About 8,000 people pre-registered, but the museum expects more people than that, said Katie Frassinelli, the museum's marketing and communications manager.

The 20th anniversary celebration is expected to be about twice the size of the 15th anniversary, she said. About 5,500 people attended 15th anniversary events each day, with 4,800 people pre-registered.

Visitors will wield a powerful economic impact next weekend. The estimated average is $123 per person per day, which amounts to almost $5 million by the end of the celebration.

Frassinelli said that's probably a conservative estimate.

"That average is low, especially for Corvette owners," Frassinelli said.

Twenty years after it opened, the museum sees about 150,000 visitors annually, but Frassinelli anticipates that number will be higher this year because of an increase in visitors after a sinkhole collapsed in the Skydome.

Vicki Fitch, executive director of the Bowling Green Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the museum has an economic impact of about $25 million to $30 million annually.

Registration will be available on site during the anniversary celebration. The cost is $25 for nonmembers, $15 for museum members and free for lifetime members. Registration includes attendance to all seminars, admission to the museum and a parade lap around the Motorsports Park track.

There will be live music daily, as well as food and drink for purchase. Retired FBI agent Wes Wong, who was the senior agent at ground zero Sept. 11, 2001, will speak Friday and Saturday.

A "Ladies' Oasis," which includes activities like vendors and massages, will be available Friday and Saturday.

Fitch said the anniversary celebration is a significant event for Bowling Green because of the demographic of the thousands of visitors.

"The economic impact of this event is phenomenal," Fitch said.

Fitch said the draw for visitors has been "three-tiered - two planned, one unplanned," referring to the anniversary celebration and Motorsports Park opening as planned and the sinkhole as unplanned. Many Corvette enthusiasts probably want to see it in person, she said.

"It doesn't seem you can get the same perspective from a video or a photograph," Fitch said.

Fitch said Bowling Green is ready to welcome the anniversary visitors.

"It'll be a good time in Bowling Green. It definitely will," Fitch said.

A complete schedule of anniversary activities is available at corvettemuseum.org. A shuttle will run between the museum and the Motorsports Park, as well as to Cracker Barrel, Ramada, Super 8 South on Cumberland Trace Road, Drury Inn, Red Roof Inn and the Sloan Convention Center.

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