Los Angeles Times
Does It Make Sense to Spend Up to $289 Million to Repair the Queen Mary?
By Hugo Martin
Buried in a nearly 400-page study on the dire repairs needed for the venerable Queen Mary is a diagram of the 81-year-old ocean liner that looks like something out of an autopsy report.
From the bow to the stern, from the keel to the crow’s nest, arrows point out more than 20 repair projects needed to prevent a hull collapse and flooding that threaten the stability of the ship.
The most immediate fixes would cost $5.7 million, with a total budget of $289 million for all repairs over the next five years, according to the engineering report handed to Long Beach city officials this month.
The question now facing the coastal town is whether the overhaul would be a good investment for a floating tourist attraction that has struggled over the years to remain profitable.
City officials have committed to preserving the ship, saying they can pay for the repairs using revenue generated by the ship and the surrounding developments. Those revenues would have otherwise been diverted to the city’s general fund.
“The Queen Mary is an iconic asset that the city has finally, for the first time, made a commitment to,” said Long Beach Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce, whose district includes the harbor area. “I believe we need all of our assets together to create a strong tourist attraction.”
But tourism experts say the total repair costs may not match how much the ship brings in tourism dollars.
“It makes no sense,” said Alan Reay, president of Atlas Hospitality. “You could build a resort hotel at a million dollars a room instead.”
Carl Winston, a hospitality and tourism expert from San Diego State, said the money needed for the repairs could be used on more profitable ventures, such as the city convention center…