Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Celebrates 20 Years in Cleveland

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It was 20 years ago today that Yoko Ono, Little Richard, and then-Governor George Voinovich cut the ribbon to open the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum on Cleveland’s Lakefront.  The rock hall’s director today says “Thank you Cleveland, it’s wonderful to be here.”  Ideastream’s Mark Urycki reports.


The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame celebrated its opening with an all-star rock concert at Cleveland Municipal Stadium that featured Chuck Berry jamming with the E Street Band. That first year the hall drew more than 870 thousand visitors but attendance dropped off each year down to less than half that a decade ago.  But hall president Greg Harris says they’ve seen a nice increase in attendance (15.1%) and revenue.  

“We are up 16% on tickets and retail over last year and that’s a significant part of our revenue.  Almost 70% of our earned income comes from tickets and store.  And we’re up 16%.  It’s our first real large increase in over a dozen years – since the 90’s.  We are just flying; it’s a terrific year.”     

He says those numbers are good news for the local economy

“Ninety percent of those visitors came from outside NE Ohio.  They stayed in our hotels; they rented cars; they shopped.”

It’s actually been tough for the museum to get area people to come back for return visits so this month the hall is offering locals ticket prices of 20 years ago – 2 for $20. 

This year was Cleveland’s third time to host the induction ceremonies which Harris called a home-run for the local economy.

“The museum’s economic impact each year is over $100m dollars.  When we host the inductions there’s an additional $16m impact that comes with it.”

In 2009 the Hall opened an annex in New York City but it never caught on and was closed one year later.  This year the Cleveland hall celebrated its 10 millionth visitor – a guy from New York City.

Instead of an annex, Harris says they’ll focus on traveling exhibitions.  Their Paul Simon:Words and Music show will close on Labor Day but then travel to Baltimore and L-A.  Their Women Who Rock exhibition that closed in 2012 went on to appear in 8 other cities.

The Hall went through a redesign in 2012 and Harris says more of 20 year old layout and exhibitions will be changed. 

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