Killeen continues to partner with the Mounted Warfare Foundation | Military
As the National Mounted Warfare Museum slowly moves towards opening to the public, the foundation responsible for facilitating its construction has asked the town of Killeen to continue to help promote the multi-million dollar project.
The museum aims to be a national monument that will tell the story of the men and women who served at Fort Hood and in mounted warfare – from horses to modern battle tanks. The museum, located outside Fort Hood’s main gate near the visitor’s center, also aims to be a landmark to attract tourism to the Killeen-Fort Hood area in a way that has never been seen before.
Officials expect the museum to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors a year, most of them living outside the region, according to the National Mounted Warfare Foundation, the museum’s fundraising arm.
“Estimates suggest that 265,000 people will visit the museum in its first year, with 74% of visitors expected to come from outside the Killeen-Temple metropolitan area,” according to the museum’s website.
Projections varied wildly, but a spokesperson for the foundation, Clarence Enochs, last week provided Killeen City Council with a rough estimate of $9.4 million to $54 million in regional economic impact, per year. The American Alliance of Museums reports that museum visitors spend at least $25 per visit within the community, while the Texas Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Tourism estimates that travelers staying in hotels and other accommodations spend an average of $144 per person, per day.
Museum officials said they have started holding events at the building in recent months and are planning a grand opening for summer 2023.
In 2020, the $38 million project began at Fort Hood after being planned for 10 years, the building was completed in late 2021.
The new museum is expected to expand in subsequent phases, officials said. It’s built outside Fort Hood’s security fence, meaning visitors won’t have to pass through a Fort Hood gate to access it – important for tourists who want to avoid the hassle to pass through the guarded gates of Fort Hood.
The foundation continued its annual request to approve repayable funding of $80,000 in hotel occupancy tax at a special meeting of Killeen City Council last Tuesday. The city provides these funds under a “community partnership.” With the funds, the city agrees to allow the foundation to seek reimbursement of up to $80,000 in HOT funds, as long as they are used to promote the project.
Killeen Mayor Debbie Nash-King explained that the National Mounted Warfare Foundation is a private organization the town partnered with to establish the museum.
So far, the foundation has used a portion of those funds to facilitate its publicity efforts in the form of billboards across the United States and at airports. According to Enochs, Killeen is mentioned on every one of the billboards that have been posted in Georgia, Alabama, Washington, DC and other tourist destinations.
“We’re really trying to focus on bringing in tourists, those outside of the main service area, into the local area,” Enochs said.
Councilman Michael Boyd asked the foundation to include more detailed data regarding its advertising efforts, including where the ads are, what they look like and how much was paid for each ad. Enochs said the number of impressions on each ad is listed in the foundation’s quarterly report to the city. Going forward, Boyd requested that the quarterly report be presented to board members, saying that “this was the first time I had heard of a quarterly report.”
Most of the work currently at the museum involves preparing the interior exhibits for next year’s opening.
“We are delighted to have completed the construction of Phase I of the museum and expect to open our doors to visitors in the summer of 2023 once the exhibits are installed. The U.S. military generously allowed us to build the museum on 17 acres near the main gate of Fort Hood, allowing easy access for visitors and service members alike,” according to the museum’s website.
As part of the National Mounted Warrior Museum, the two existing museums, the 1st Cavalry Division Museum and the 3rd Cavalry Regiment Museum, will close and move into the new museum building.
Retired Lt. Gen. Paul Funk, president and CEO of the National Mounted Warfare Foundation, previously said the museum would receive exhibits from the 1st Cavalry Division and 3rd Cavalry Regiment museums.
“We still have to organize the exhibits, and the military is working on that,” Funk said last year. “Exhibits should be ready by late 2022 or early 2023.”