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Indiana University lost $1.3 million on eclipse event, records show

Local official overestimated tourism interest by reading things on Internet

Taxpayer-funded Indiana University lost $1.3 million on an eclipse day event, according to records obtained by Indiana Public Media.

The Big Ten university in Bloomington spent $1.6 million on the “Hoosier Cosmic Celebration,” without about 33 percent of the cost going to entertainment.

Entertainment included “Grammy-nominated singer songwriter Janelle Monae, Emmy-winning Star Trek lead William Shatner and astronaut Mae Jemison, the first woman of color in space,” Indiana Public Media reported. “It also featured local performers such as the Marching Hundred, music students from Jacobs and IU dancers.”

The university ended up giving away tickets for free to students. Still, the event only had 3,000 to 4,000 attendees, even after distributing more than 9,000 tickets.

The school made $268,190.25 on tickets, parking, and sponsorships. But it also spent $771,496.88 and on facilities, staging, and staff for the event. It spent more than $135,000 on “campus grants” “staff meals,” and signage.

The university is not the only one to overestimate interest in the eclipse event, which could be seen in various places throughout Indiana for free just by going outside.

“Anywhere from 75,000 people to over 200,000 people will be coming to Monroe County on and around April 8 to view the event,” Mike McAfee, executive director of Visit Bloomington, previously told Indiana Public Media. He said more than 2 million people might travel to Indiana for the event, making it the “largest tourism event in the history of the state of Indiana.”

About 50,000 came to Monroe County instead.

Asked where the original estimates came from, McAfee said “I don’t know.”

“Just reading online reports and things like that. So maybe it was a mistake to look at the internet and take those estimates that you read in different articles from media reports and things like that.”

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IMAGE: WTHR/YouTube with College Fix edits

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Matt has previously worked at Students for Life of America, Students for Life Action and Turning Point USA. While in college, he wrote for The College Fix as well as his college newspaper, The Loyola Phoenix. He holds a B.A. from Loyola University-Chicago and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He lives in northwest Indiana with his family.