New owner is not planning to change 'unique' City Museum | St. Louis Public Radio

New owner is not planning to change 'unique' City Museum

Jan 3, 2019

City Museum in downtown St. Louis is under new ownership. Premier Parks, which owns several water and theme parks throughout the country, has announced a deal for the unique attraction.

The company is not saying how much it paid for the museum, but says it has bought the business and has a 40-year lease on the building on North 16th Street.

It also is not planning to change the feel of the museum.

“I think that’s part of the appeal of this acquisition: the fact that this is a unique attraction,” said Premier Parks Marketing Manager Traci Blanks.

Visitors climb in and around a repurposed airplane at City Museum on Thursday afternoon.
Credit Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

There are plans to study the museum and possibly use some concepts at other properties, while helping support some of the business operations.

“Probably some marketing expertise, and maybe some in the operating area that we can offer up," Blanks said.

Museum General Manager Rick Erwin said there have been talks with a few companies over the past year and a half but found Premier Parks to be an ideal fit.

“There are things that City Museum is very good at. Things like slides, climbers, castles,” he said. “But there are areas that were are a little slow in is ticketing, scheduling for our employees — kind of the business-aspect side.”

He understands the concerns many in St. Louis might have about a new owner coming in and making drastic changes. But he is convinced that won’t happen and would not be supporting the deal if that was in Premier Parks’ plans.

“I take City Museum very seriously,” he said. “I had my first date with my wife here, long before I worked here. It’s a part of my family. I’ve seen my kids grow up. So, I don’t want anything to change,” Erwin added.

Premier Parks is not planning to make any job cuts. Erwin said the attraction has about 150 workers during the summer and about 100 at off-peak times of the year.

The museum opened in 1997. Its founder, Bob Cassilly, died in 2011, and the attraction had been owned by grain processor, American Milling, since 2002.

Follow Wayne Pratt on Twitter: @Wayne Radio