Graceland and Coliseum Post Elvis week attendance records
Attendance at Elvis Week 1997 broke Graceland’s records with the biggest single-day attendance ever and an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 people in town for the week.
Graceland’s creative services director Todd Morgan said attendance at Graceland averaged 4,000 a day during the week with a record 5,150 taking the home tour Saturday, the 20th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death.
Morgan said police estimated 30,000 people at the Friday-Saturday candlelight vigil, while Graceland’s own figures show about 40,000 people visited the home during the week. Those figures plus attendance at other Elvis tributes are included in Graceland’s estimate of as many as 70,000 people, he said.
The numbers include roughly 8,300 people who attended the Saturday tribute concert at the Mid-South Coliseum, where they were surprised by a tribute by Lisa Marie Presley, who sang with Elvis on video to the song Don’t Cry, Daddy.
Elvis recorded the song in Memphis in 1969, and Lisa Marie decided only three weeks prior to the concert that she would sing it with Elvis on video “rather than just make a speech,” Morgan said.
He said the concert broke the Coliseum’s box office record.
Coliseum board member John Bakke said all available seats were sold along with some discounted because they had no clear view of video screens.
Ticket prices ranged from $50 to $80, and Bakke said a conservative average price of about $60 a ticket would have meant a box office gross of roughly $500,000.
Bakke, a communications professor at the University of Memphis, said he was told Monday that in spite of high production costs for the tribute concert, the university should receive a substantial amount from the proceeds for its endowed scholarship in honor of Elvis Presley.
Tourist attractions that did not feature Elvis did not fare as well.
Attendance at the Wonders series exhibition “Titanic” dropped from 30,000 the week before to 25,000 last week.
Spokesman Tracy Paden attributed the drop to lack of hotel rooms for those who buy tickets in advance for Wonders exhibitions.
Elvis Week Attendance Estimates
– Aug. 15-16 candlelight vigil 30,000
– Aug. 16 tribute concert 8,300
– Daily Graceland tours 4,000
– Aug. 16 Graceland tour 5,150
– Total visitors 50,000-70,000
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