With a temporary exhibition of Andy Warhol filling one entire gallery, St. Petersburg's Salvador Dali Museum was enjoying a 40 percent increase in attendance.
Until this week, and probably next week. The barricades and fencing for the St. Pete Grand Prix are now largely in place, forcing museum visitors to park at the Pier and ride a trolley to and from the Dali.
Friday through Sunday, the museum will just close.
"We thought, okay, let's look at these numbers, it's costing us a lot of human effort, lot of expense to stay open, and it's not productive," director Hank Hine told FOX 13 News.
Asked for the lost opportunity cost, Hine responded "It's probably in the hundreds of thousands" of dollars.
The Grand Prix street racing track was laid out before the Dali moved into its new building, which sits in the middle of the course. The annual race brings in an estimated 125,000 fans over three days, and gives the city international media exposure.
However, city leaders are aware of the impact on local businesses.
"A lot of downtown, especially our core along the waterfront, definitely see impacts during race week," small business liaison Jessica Eilerman said. "Folks have in some cases avoided [downtown] maybe because of a perceived traffic issue or parking challenges."
Eilerman's position is one of several new posts created by newly-elected Mayor Rick Kriseman, and the Grand Prix riddle was one of her first tasks.
"We're utilizing a mobile website that not only has race information, but also says, ‘how can I get involved in downtown, what else is going on?' "
The mobile website includes digital coupons for downtown stores and restaurants. It went "live" Monday and can be found at stpetefans.com.
"What we want to do is make sure if the race doesn't fit for you there's other things going on" Eilerman said.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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