Patriots Points to greet 2014 with 'Pay-What-You-Can' weekend

The Yorktown is one of several attractions visitors can tour for a discounted rate during Patriots Point's annual "Pay What You Can" weekend. Buy this photo

The colder months of the year tend to have a chilling effect on ticket sales at Patriots Point, which isn't unusual for a seaside tourist attraction. But that hasn't stopped the museum's mission to draw a crowd.

This weekend, Patriots Point aims to boost attendance by leaving its admission fees up to visitors.

During the third annual "Pay-What-You-Can" event on Saturday and Sunday, parking fees will be waived and visitors can choose how much they want to pay for tickets to the attraction.

Typically, adults' admission is $18 and parking is about $5 per car. As usual, military personnel in uniform and children younger than 6 are admitted free. All the exhibits at Patriots Point will be open to visitors during regular business hours, from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Although tickets are discounted and even free in many cases, Mac Burdette, executive director of Patriots Point, said the naval and maritime museum usually earns more during the event than it would during a typical January weekend.

"We get a lot of people who come out with their families who seriously could not afford to come without a discounted rate. They'll pay little to nothing, which is OK," Burdette said. "Mainly I think we build some good will with the community at large, and on a weekend when we wouldn't have a big crowd, we see a lot of buzz."

The tourist attraction, which is a state-owned agency, implemented a three-year plan through June 2015 to bring its annual revenue to $11.7 million. One of its objectives was to boost attendance by 20 percent and generate an extra $1.2 million from ticket sales each year by 2016.

The state agency could be on the right track to reaching its goals. Financial reports show that the attraction's earnings were up by nearly 13 percent in the first quarter of the year, which stretched from July to September.

A revenue report on the state agency's second quarter, October through December, was not available on Monday.

Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail

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