The Downtown Investment Authority recently approved the concept of berthing the U.S. Navy Destroyer USS Charles F. Adams at The Shipyards Property. The action is expected to go before the full City Council on Aug. 26 — it was unanimously approved by a Council committee on Aug. 5 — and, one hopes, be signed into law by Mayor Alvin Brown soon after. This is an important step, but it does not bring the Adams to Jacksonville. Only you are capable of bringing the destroyer back home to Jacksonville. But before we discuss your part, let’s review what the USS Adams Museum will do for the community.
The first item to review is economics. A study and economic model was done by Pete Mansel of the 4PGroup to determine the number of visitors attracted and the amount of revenue the museum would generate. Mansel stated in reviewing his methodology that he always errs on the conservative side when running economic models. He will not tell a client what they want hear but what the facts are, even though they may not support a project.
In the case of the museum, in the first year there is an estimated loss of $781,000 due to an expected gradual build-up of revenue during the first six months of operation. After year one, the museum operates at a surplus of $700,000, increasing to up to $1 million by year five. The projected gross revenue increases from just under $2 million in the first year to almost $4 million by the fifth year. The number of visitors is estimated at 165,000, plus another 45,000 from youth group day trips and sleepovers, as well as 100,000 from different ships’ reunion groups.
These numbers impact Jacksonville greatly. Visit Jacksonville estimates that each visitor generates about $128 in spending. The 165,000 visitors will create an economic impact of more than $21 million a year. They would also generate 25,000 to 30,000 room-nights. Bringing in another 100,000 visitors (including spouses) for the ships’ reunions will generate about 150,000 room-nights and more than $38 million in economic impact.
Regarding the sleepovers, there are hundreds of thousands of young people who are members of Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Sea Scouts, church youth groups and junior ROTC units who would be invited for sleepovers on board the Adams, assuming a marketing effort to bring in youth within a six-hour drive of Jacksonville.
There is another group that can benefit from the Adams: the students of Duval County and surrounding Northeast Florida counties. There are more than 100,000 students in Duval County Public Schools, plus many more in private and parochial schools. The Adams would offer a field trip to these students once a year, to learn about the history of the Cold War and to give the students a feel for what life was like aboard a Navy ship between 1960 and 1995.
These visits would include a tour of the sleeping quarters, the engine room, officers’ ward rooms, the bridge, and the command and intelligence center where a missile drill may be simulated. There will be artifacts from the time period for the students to examine. The visit will also include lessons in how the ship’s propulsion system works and how the ship is “driven” from the bridge.
Finally, there is the emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Jacksonville’s floating Naval museum provides an opportunity to teach Title I students STEM. In fact, there would be five classrooms on the Adams dedicated to STEM. The idea is to use the excitement of being on U.S. Navy vessel to translate into excitement for math and its uses on board such a ship. This in turn results in an increase in the skills needed to take Florida’s new comprehensive tests.
From Baltimore to Jacksonville, there is no maritime museum that is close to Interstate 95. This makes Jacksonville a great location for a Naval museum. When you consider the history of Jacksonville as a Navy town, bringing the ship here to serve as a floating museum is quite appropriate.
Having the museum in Jacksonville honors the men who served their country on the Adams-class destroyers. The museum will also have displays that honor those who have served their country in all capacities. The Adams will be a true military service museum.
Within five years of opening the floating museum, the goals include adding a paved area of about 80,000 square feet, moving Jacksonville’s War Memorial from the EverBank Field parking lot to the location of the Adams, and completing a building that greatly increases the display area. These would be displays honoring the men and women of all five service branches.
By year five, it is hoped that the Adams would be tied to Downtown hotels and remote parking locations by the Automated Skyway Express. This would make the Naval museum accessible to Downtown; if the Cummer Art Museum is as accessible to Downtown as the Museum of Science & History (MOSH) and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) currently are, local hoteliers can sell a Jacksonville museum package to tourists.
This brings us to the “what can I do” portion of this editorial. Obtaining a refurbished ship, completing the pier, building shore-based facilities and paying for the first six months of operating expenses will require $5 million. It is unlikely a donor will be found who can provide all $5 million.
A better way is to have the community come together to pay for the museum. The Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association (JHNSA) is a 501(c)3 non-profit. Here’s an example of how a large number of small donors can make a great difference: If the 1.4 million people in the Jacksonville metropolitan area gave just $4 each, we would raise $5.2 million. If 200,000 people give $25, or if 50,000 people gave $100, the museum would raise the $5 million needed.
One method of helping to bring the Adams to Jacksonville is to become a Fleet of One Hundred Commander. The requirements are to donate $500 and then promise to bring in at least 25 people as $25 individual members. The Fleet Commander then asks those 25 people to bring in an additional 25 people. If we start with 100 Fleet Commanders and each acquires 25 individual members who then bring in another 25 individual members, the Adams gains 62,500 members and will accrue almost $1.6 million.
The Fleet of One Hundred Campaign will bring us the operating funds needed to continue our fundraising efforts. The campaign will also provide a portion of the capital needed to begin the project. Without the infusion of this funding, we will be unable to start our capital campaign.
You can make a donation at ussadams.com. To become a Commander by donating at least $500 and selling at least 25 individual memberships (with books included), or to obtain a copy of our naming rights list with prices, please contact our Executive Director, Commodore Joe Snowberger at [email protected].