An opportunity has come along that could be a game changer for the city of Galveston. The USS Texas battleship will be a game changer. It can become the significant attraction to Galveston. But it will only happen if all parties agree.
Other cities have capitalized on these significant historic monuments to create major tourist attractions. My favorites are USS Midway Museum in San Diego and the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Given the will, Galveston could create such a world-class attraction. My dream would be a Texas World War I and II museum anchored by the USS Texas.
For the ship to come to Galveston, all the authorities would have to agree that the location is beneficial to everyone. Specifically, the decision-makers in charge of the battleship, the USS Texas Foundation, would have to first agree. These folks recognize that high traffic is necessary for economic success. Galveston, taxpayers, downtown businesses and the port will also benefit from the addition of the USS Texas.
I participated in the citizens committee analyzing all locations in Galveston as a possible site for the battleship. Our second choice was Pier 21.
Our reasons for this are many:
1. Galveston commercial interest will benefit greatly from the individuals and families visiting The USS Texas. Visitors parking will walk past shops, restaurants and entertainment on their way to the battleship. For example, the new American National Insurance Co. parking decks can provide sufficient additional parking on weekends and holidays, a short five-minute walk from Pier 21.
2. Dock buildout cost for Pier 21 is the lowest of possible locations. The ship could literally be parked at Pier 21 now.
3. For the Port of Galveston, revenue from attendance can return as significant rental income to the city.
4. A study by Deloitte Consulting suggests attendance projections for a Galveston downtown location should be at least three times higher than the current Baytown location. Seawolf Park traffic is less than Baytown.
5. The USS Texas Foundation realizes from its analysis that Seawolf Park would be an economic failure and has therefore turned down the Seawolf Park location. If Galveston’s leadership doesn’t propose the Pier 21 location, the USS Texas Foundation will move the ship to Kemah, a good location that it is currently considering.
6. Galveston would have the opportunity to build a world-class Texas World War I and II museum anchored by the USS Texas. Other cities, such as the USS Midway in San Diego and the World War II Museum in New Orleans, reap significant benefits from these attractions.
I hope our city leadership will thoroughly consider this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Galveston and get behind bringing the USS Texas battleship to downtown Galveston.