LA PORTE, Texas — Beaumont city councilman Mike Getz believes the Neches River is the perfect place to relocate the historic Battleship Texas after it undergoes repairs.
The overhaul should start next year, and the historic ship would be ready to move to a new port sometime in 2023. The ship has been docked in La Porte for more than 70 years.
"I think it's a great opportunity,” Getz said. “It's something I think that would promote Beaumont. I think it would draw a lot of people into Beaumont." Getz believes it's a move that would put Beaumont on the map.
He got the idea while visiting the century-old battleship over the weekend, and he even talked to Battleship Texas Foundation executives about a possible move.
Getz said executives found Beaumont to be an attractive spot.
"They're interested in Beaumont particularly because 87,500 people go over that Purple Heart Memorial Bridge every day, so it would really be cool to have Battleship Texas moored in the Neches River where you could see it from the bridge," Getz said.
Getz realizes Beaumont is behind the curve on this, and he admits a lot of logistics need to be worked out in a short period of time to make a compelling case. He says the potential payoff would make the process worth it.
"Thinking about the economic impact that this could have on the city of Beaumont, you're estimated at maybe $10 million a year in economic impact," Getz said.
Bruce Bramlett with the Battleship Texas Foundation said the ship's future location will rest on two key criteria: visitation and funding.
Bramlett said in the ship's current location, it averages 80,000 paid visitors a year, but he would like to see that number jump to about 250,000.
"Being in proximity to the fourth-largest city in the country [Houston], Beaumont's 50 miles away, so they need to put their best foot forward," Bramlett said.
Bramlett said Getz and other Beaumont officials will need to get a final proposal in place within the next 30 to 60 days before they can move forward. It's unclear whether other city leaders have expressed interest in joining the effort.