Is the Mob Museum living up to expectations? - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Is the Mob Museum living up to expectations?

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The Mob Museum turned 1 this week. (Doug Johnson/FOX5) The Mob Museum turned 1 this week. (Doug Johnson/FOX5)
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

The Mob Museum was touted as the cornerstone of two mayors' revitalization efforts in downtown Las Vegas.

On the heels of the museum's one-year anniversary, visitation numbers are far short of estimates. The city spent nearly $35 million to open the museum, and while it has attracted its share of visitors, it's not what former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman had hoped.

When the Mob Museum opened in 2012, Oscar Goodman made a bold prediction about the number of people who would visit.

"You know they told me not to say that I believe 800,000 people will be down here," Goodman said in 2012.

It turns out the former mob attorney was a bit optimistic in his estimate. Only 225,000 have purchased tickets to the attraction so far.

"I would have hoped for their sake they had done better," said Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman.

While Carolyn Goodman admitted the number of visitors is disappointing, she's hopeful things will turn around with the opening of the Downtown Grand hotel and casino.

"Once that is open the amount of visitors that they'll have here will absolutely go sky-high," she said.

Critics have called into question the $35.9 million in taxpayer money that went into the museum.

"The Mob Museum is the perfect example of government shaking down taxpayers for a pet project of a powerful politician," said Victor Joecks with the Nevada Policy Research Institute.

The Nevada Policy Research Institute predicted a low turnout for the Mob Museum and fears it will continue to cost taxpayers.

"(We've) seen it with the Springs Preserve, we've seen it with the (Las Vegas) Monorail," Joecks said. "The losses just start mounting up and these organizations turn to governments for a bailout."

Mob Museum Executive Director Jonathan Ullman said the museum is using historic tax credits to begin paying down debt.

"We made a $400,000 payment to the city just last month," he said.

The museum is stepping its marketing efforts up, and Carolyn Goodman insists that a few hundred thousand visitors in the current economy is good.

The Nevada Policy Research Institute said the Mob Museum has received more than $40 million in government handouts.

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