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Consultant says museum will draw 330,000 in first year

March 22, 2000|By JULIE E. GREENE

A $46 million National Civil War Museum in downtown Hagerstown could attract enough visitors to justify the expense, an independent consultant told Hagerstown and Washington County elected officials Tuesday.

"I'm telling you here that if you build it, they will come," said Roland A. Ramirez of Houston-based Beach Ramirez.

Ramirez estimates 330,000 people would visit the museum during its first full year. The museum is tentatively slated to open in the fall of 2002, according to a market study for the proposed project.

Because the opening of a new attraction is usually surrounded by much excitement, that number is expected to decline and then rebound in the museum's fifth year, eventually climbing to 400,000 visitors a year, Ramirez said.

Ramirez said his estimates do not take into account visitors from Gettysburg, Pa.

Ramirez said that because he always gives conservative estimates, the actual numbers are better, he told a joint meeting of the Washington County Commissioners and Hagerstown's Mayor and City Council at City Hall.

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The economic impact on the local community from the proposed museum is estimated at $11 million a year and $160 million over 10 years, Ramirez said.

The total economic impact over 10 years would be $211 million, he said.

In computing the visitation numbers, Ramirez said he used three different models. He took into account visitation for area attractions, demographers' growth predictions for the area and looked at a similar situation in Vicksburg, Miss., where there is a national military park with a museum.

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