National Medal of Honor Museum CEO visits Arlington
There is no shortage of things to do in Arlington. From Six Flags over Texas to the Dallas Cowboys to the Texas Rangers and more, visitors and locals have plenty to take in.
City officials are hoping that they will be adding a bit of American history to the options in the entertainment district. Arlington is one of two cities, along with Denver, as a finalist for the National Medal of Honor Museum.
The winner will be announced Oct. 2 after the search was launched in October 2018.
On Thursday, museum CEO Joseph Daniels addressed the media and local dignitaries at the Live! by Loews hotel, located in the new Texas Live! area of the entertainment district.
“Certainly America’s museum should be in America’s Dream City,” Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams said in his introduction of Daniels.
Daniels is largely known for being the former president and CEO of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York. He led the planning, construction and development.
“Joe is now committed to doing the same here,” Williams said.
“Our aspiration is to build the No. 1 museum in the United States,” Daniels said, rating his treatment from folks in Arlington as an A-plus. “I don’t think Arlington could have done any better in their efforts to woo us.”
The museum is currently in South Carolina at the U.S.S. Yorktown, just outside Charleston. However, the board is seeking a larger metropolitan area that draws many visitors throughout the year to give the museum as much traffic as possible.
The City of Arlington reports that it draws an average of around 14 million people annually, thanks largely to its entertainment district.
“We want to measure our visitations in millions and not thousands,” Daniels said.
Daniels said he and his board of directors are looking for two main things in determining the location of the new museum, which he said will be between 120,000 and 150,000 square feet. They are seeking land on which to build something iconic, and the leadership of the city getting entirely behind the project.
Arlington qualifies in both categories. Along with having land, Williams said the city and North Texas is ready to raise the $150 million needed for the design and construction.
“We believe because Texas has supported veteran causes for decades, raising that money won’t be a problem,” Williams said.
“This should be something the citizens from this city and the region should step up and help fund,” Daniels said. “Whether you write a check for five bucks or $10 million, at this stage it’s really critical.”
Williams has said his goal is to open the museum in four years should it come to Arlington.
The museum is designed to honor not only those who have received the Medal of Honor, but also anyone who has ever served, Daniels said.
“It will honor the service of anyone who has ever put on a uniform. They’ll feel this museum is a part of them as well,” he said.
A recent editorial in the Star-Telegram stated that around a million and a half veterans live in Texas, and about 250,000 are in North Texas.
Daniels said he had a meeting with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Texas Rangers co-owner Ray Davis that he called “special.”
“You can tell they really support the military,” he said, adding that he was also impressed when the Dallas Cowboys, on a trip to New York, took time to visit the 9/11 Museum. He also said he was impressed with the way Davis and the Rangers honor special forces.
“It just felt like an immediate resource and we felt an immediate connection to Arlington,” Daniels said.
Daniels said the museum will bring about 300-500 jobs to whichever city is chosen. As for the impact on the economy, he didn’t estimate a number, but said, “incremental visitation and incremental stays are a big part.”
The original list of cities before it was narrowed to Arlington and Denver included San Diego, New York, and Washington, D.C. Dallas was also considered, Daniels said, but their attention in the Metroplex quickly shifted to Arlington.