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St. Louis breaks attendance record for Olympic gymnastics team trials

More than 20,000 attended the women's gymnastics team trials in St. Louis, making it a new national record to beat.
Credit: KSDK

ST. LOUIS — The Olympic gymnastics teams are now set, and it turns out the city of St. Louis is also proud to be a winner for shattering an old attendance record for the trials. 

The last record held upwards of 17,000 people, but the St. Louis Sports Commission confirmed to 5 On Your Side that Sunday night's attendance reached 20,815.

It's a feat the sports commission wasn't sure it would reach.

About a month and a half ago, tickets had to be refunded as the pandemic brought on a venue change from Enterprise Center to The Dome. 

"When you hit the restart button a month and a half ago and have to refund everybody and start at ground zero, you're concerned, " said Chris Roseman, Sports Commission vice president. "But St. Louis always steps up. Breaking records is what we kind of do."

Families from across the country made a trip out of the trials. 

Jessica Stanchek and her 6-year-old daughter Bella made the trip from Florida. Jessica is a gymnastics coach and said she also came to learn from other coaches and take back those ideas to her home gym. 

"It's just an experience we may never see again," Stanchek said.

Stancheck said she also stopped at the zoo, some parks and the aquarium and made a big trip out of her time in St. Louis.

RELATED: Meet the six women gymnasts representing the US in Tokyo

The Sports Commission said one study shows that the week's trials will bring in an estimated $28 million. That doesn't include other gymnastics events that coincided with the trials and brought in coaches and gymnasts from all over the country. Regardless, it's a boost to many local businesses that have suffered through the pandemic.

Simone Biles was a major attraction as a once-in-lifetime kind of athlete, but the entire team has star power. Missouri gymnasts were specifically interested in Leanne Wong and Kara Eaker, who train at GAGE Gymnastics in Blue Springs. 

"We already had our tickets since Christmas 2019," said Becky Gelber, a woman who sported a GAGE shirt to the trials. Gelber said she was excited to cheer on Eaker and Wong. Both were named on the replacement team Sunday night.

Ultimately, the high attendance record only sends good signs to the committee in charge of picking the 2024 Olympic swimming trials. Roseman said it helps the city's resume and after a week like this last one, doubles down on the fact that St. Louis can handle a world-class event.