Kudos to the fledgling "Off-Broadway Alliance" for taking a page out of the Broadway League and advancing the field's interests in the media and lobbying. They have a report out showing just how big an audience does indeed attend non-Tony eligible productions.
The report, released by the Off Broadway Alliance, found that shows produced in theaters with fewer than 500 seats bring more than $461 million in direct and indirect revenue to the Big Apple. During the 2007/2008 season, 5.47 million tickets were sold at off-Broadway theaters worth a total of $173 million. The tallies included data from both commercial and non-profit off-Broadway productions.
The impact is small in comparison with the Great White Way, which contributes $5.1 billion to the economy. But the numbers show that off-Broadway is a greater economic force than a number of other local attractions. Off-Broadway productions were attended by 1.7 million more people than visited the Empire State Building, 1.2 million more than visited the Statue of Liberty, and 2 million more than Coney Island, according to the report.
Let's see, 5 million tickets, divided by x number of 500-seat-or-less houses...that's enough to fill over 10,000* Off-Broadway theaters! On at least one night, that is.
I hope that stat means something. Does it?
*Rob Kendt is right. I suck at math.