Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012 | 2 a.m.
Map of Mob Museum
300 Stewart Ave, Las Vegas
The Las Vegas Mob Museum recently recorded its 100,000th visitor and is on track to reach 200,000 by the end of the year, Executive Director Jonathan Ullman said.
A marketing study commissioned before the museum opened projected visitation at 250,000 to 600,000 a year, but that was before the economic downturn, he said.
Still, Ullman said he’s confident the attraction will have no problem covering its expenses in its first year.
It’s clear Ullman is focused on the future and the role the National Museum of Organized Crime & Law Enforcement is expected to play in Mayor Carolyn Goodman’s vision of a downtown resurgence.
“We’re basically the first to the party down here,” Ullman said, gesturing around the neighborhood at Stewart Avenue and Third Street, about two blocks north of the Fremont Street Experience.
“We’re surrounded by construction right now,” he said. “You dial ahead, two to three years from now, it’s going to be completely different.”
He looked to the east at the Zappos renovation at the old Las Vegas City Hall, expected to bring more than 1,000 of the online shoe and clothing retailer’s employees downtown by this time next year.
He gestured across Stewart Street at the construction fences blocking off two projects — the renovation of the former Lady Luck into the Downtown Grand resort and the Downtown3rd development, which is expected to bring 18 restaurants and bars to the neighborhood by late 2013.
“When people wonder what the future bodes, we see the trajectory going upwards,” Ullman said, watching as a few people crossed Stewart at Third Street to come to the museum. “If you went back a year ago, you wouldn’t see anybody walking down the street.”
He also pointed south, about a half a block to the Triple George restaurant and the Mob Bar — saying many people leave the museum and stop off at those establishments to spend money downtown.
Ullman frowned when asked if the privately funded Mob Attraction was drawing tourists away from the Mob Museum, which was funded by federal, state and local grants as part of the renovation of the former courthouse and post office.
“Frankly, it creates confusion,” Ullman said. “Long term, it’s not a concern for us. But as with any new business opening up, trying to establish itself in the marketplace and trying to build an awareness, it poses certain challenges.”
Meanwhile, the museum, which operates as a 501c3 nonprofit organization, is on track to cover its $3.5 million operating budget for its first year, he said. Ullman declined to provide specific figures, saying those would be made available at the end of the year to the museum’s board of directors.
“We are in a financially sound condition. We are doing fine,” he said.
The museum generates revenue through ticket sales, memberships, its gift store, parking, food and beverage sales, facility rentals for private events and special events featuring guest speakers.
About 55 people are employed at the museum, including 20 to 25 full-time employees, he said.
The Mob Museum, which opened Feb. 14, is in the historic federal courthouse and post office at Third Street and Stewart Avenue. One of the key reasons the museum is there is because it served as a venue for one of the 14 nationally televised Kefauver hearings on organized crime in 1950.
At that time, much of the Las Vegas casino industry was controlled by organized crime families with ties to Chicago, New York and Kansas City.
Artifacts in the museum’s interactive exhibits include those from mobsters including Al Capone, Meyer Lansky, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal and Tony “The Ant” Spilotro.