Corvette Museum tourists allowed in room with sinkhole

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WDRB) — Tourism continues to skyrocket at the National Corvette Museum, weeks after a sinkhole swallowed eight Corvettes.

Now tourists are being allowed inside the room where it happened.

On Thursday, the Skydome where the sinkhole opened was opened to the public for the first time. It has been closed since mid-February when the sinkhole swallowed eight Corvettes.

The cars have been lined up inside the museum and have been a big tourist attraction. People across the country are traveling to the National Corvette Museum to see the cars and attendance was up 56 percent in March. Now they’ll be even closer to the sinkhole. Up until Thursday, tourists were only allowed to peer in at it from a Plexiglas window.

“It was amazing,” said Jewel Toomer. “We saw it on the news and every Corvette owner in the world’s heart sank. They had to have.”

“I was hoping to (get into the Skydome) because I’ve been watching what’s been going on with the various cars they’ve pulled out,” said Tony McBride.

Officials at the museum tell us they now know there is a cave system under the building, and that heavy rain over time may have caused the sinkhole to open.

“To see it in person, you know, it looks a whole lot different on television,” said Brenda Jones.

Tourists like Jones have been traveling from across the country to see the cars and the sinkhole. And souvenir sales have been brisk as well — from T-shirts to photos, people are trying to capture this part of the museum’s history.

National Corvette Museum spokeswoman Katie Frassinelli says “in March, we were up 56 percent, which is crazy for us.”

Frassinelli says Museum officials previously said the sinkhole would be filled but now those plans are now on hold as they consider all possibilities, including “whether we’re just going to put concrete back and have it as good as new, or leave a portion of the hole and put some Plexiglas on it where you can see down it … a bridge to go over it, stairs to go down it. Any idea that once seemed crazy, we’re now seriously considering.”

McBride says they should remove all trace of the sinkhole. “Personally I think they need to fill it up, just like it didn’t occur,” he said.

Jones disagrees.

“I think they should leave a part of it open as a part of history to show that we did have a sinkhole at the museum,” Jones said.

GM plans to restore some of the cars that fell into the sinkhole, but the museum plans to keep some on display since they have been such a big tourist attraction.

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