NMMA reports boost in show attendance

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With five of its winter boat shows finished, the National Marine Manufacturers Association is reporting strong crowds at many of them and optimism among exhibitors.

The Atlanta Boat Show, which was a four-day event this year, down from five last year, saw a 1 percent increase in attendance from 2010 despite a late opening because of a snowstorm and an NFL playoff game involving the Atlanta Falcons that was played during the show. The NMMA said 24,122 people attended this year's show, which ran Jan. 13-16.

The Chicago Boat, RV and Outdoors Show, which ran Jan. 12-16, had a strong start and, at the show's Saturday close, attendance was up 12 percent. However, the Chicago Bears had a playoff game on Sunday and total attendance was down 7 percent, with 32,069 people attending the event.

The Kansas City Boat and Sportshow, which took place Jan. 13-16, saw a 7 percent increase in attendance, with 26,335 people attending the show.

The New York Boat Show, which ran Jan. 19-23, saw a small decrease in attendance. The show was down 6 percent from 2010 as 44,565 people attended this year's show, down from 47,443 in 2010.

"The confidence is back and the dealers were generally happy with the show and the type of buyers who came out," show manager Jon Pritko said, adding that a late-week snowstorm and the AFC championship game on Sunday that featured the New York Jets were detriments to attendance.

"It's not just the heads, it's the boat buyers - and we had those people here," he said, offering reports of sales of both a $320,000 boat and one at $1 million. "But there was also a good mix of boats sold in the 30-foot range."

At the Minneapolis Boat Show, which ran Jan. 19-23, organizers reported a 26 percent increase in attendance from 2010. The event drew 31,054 people.

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