According to Executive Director of Finance Paul Wesch, GulfQuest National Maritime Museum has not been holding up its end of an agreement with the city to pay its utility bills. Wesch said the city and GulfQuest had reached an agreement about a year ago where the city would pay the building’s monthly utility costs then bill the museum quarterly. Since entering into the agreement, GulfQuest has yet to make a single payment, Wesch said, noting they owe roughly $400,000.
“Three quarters went by, we billed them each time and they did not pay,” he said.
The city has given GulfQuest notice that it’s not in compliance with the agreement, but officials aren’t prepared to take action against the museum. The city owns the $42 million building, or more than a two-thirds stake in the $60 million-plus investment.
“It’s our building and we’re not going to do anything to jeopardize our building,” Wesch said, noting it’s the city’s intention to keep all utilities online.
Of the $42 million, $28 million came from taxpayers, while $14 million came from private funding. The building’s construction experienced a number of delays and resulted in the museum opening five years after ground was initially broken.
GulfQuest officials did not provide comment for this story as of press time.
This week, GulfQuest announced it would be offering admission for $10.65 in conjunction with the TenSixtyFive music festival.
“The TenSixtyFive music festival has proven to be another exciting way to showcase Mobile’s ‘Born to Celebrate’ attitude,” Diana Brewer, GulfQuest marketing and public relations director said, “ … GulfQuest wants to be a part of it. By offering a 60 percent discount during the three day event, this is our way of showing appreciation to something that is bringing our city together, and hopefully contributing to its longevity.”
Normal admission prices range from $18 for adults to $16 for youth and $14 for children. There are senior, military and student discounts to $16 each, as well as special group rates.
In a previous interview, Brewer told Lagniappe the museum wouldn’t release attendance figures until after its one year anniversary. The museum celebrated that anniversary on Monday and as of last week, Brewer said they were working on compiling attendance figures.
Also this week, the Mobile County Commission agreed to give GulfQuest $30,000 for an education initiative. The funding breaks down to $20,000 from discretionary accounts from Commissioner Connie Hudson and $10,000 from Commissioner Merceria Ludgood.
This story was updated to correct the amount of funds given to GulfQuest from commissioners Connie Hudson and Merceria Ludgood.