Museum at Muhammad Ali's childhood home may close permanently
The release, which was sent by Philadelphia trial lawyer George Bochetto and Jared Weiss, the owners of the home, warn that the closure would be permanent.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The owners of a museum located at the childhood home of boxing legend Muhammad Ali say they may have to shut the museum down due to a lack of funding.
Philadelphia trial lawyer George Bochetto and Las Vegas real estate investor Jared Weiss bought the home last year, renovated it, and opened it as a museum. They also bought the home next door to use as a gift shop.
The museum is open four days a week, and Bochetto said there have been more than 10,000 visitors in the past year. But he says they cannot afford to properly advertise and market the museum and, without that, the project cannot sustain itself, financially. Bochetto and Weiss want help from the city of Louisville.
“It has always been our hope that once we demonstrate to the city and to the community how important this project is, that they would want to join in the effort. But they can't expect two private individuals to just carry this forever at their own expense,” Bochetto told WDRB News.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said it is important that museum stay open. The city budgeted $50,000 to last year to help the project. Bochetto told WDRB the partners turned down that money because it was not a long-term solution. He would not say how much of an investment they want from the city or how much he and Weiss have already spent.
Fischer said he wants to sit down with the owners before determining the city’s next steps.
“We need to understand what the issues are. We’ve been a great partner with them to date, and we need to sit down and understand what the issues are," Fischer said. "Apparently, their financial forecast is not working out the way they thought. The city’s been there with a lot of help, so let’s see what’s going on."
Bochetto said an increase in ticket prices is also not an option because he wants to keep the museum accessible. Current fees are $8 for adults and $5 for seniors and children.
"Our goal has always been to allow the Museum to be available for touring to the maximum number of people, and that is why we have kept admission fees so low," Bochetto said.
Bochetto declined to say how soon the museum could close if it does not get help, but said the time frame is "pretty short."
"We are now forced to consider all options regarding the future of the Museum," Bochetto said. "We hope an opportunity presents itself to keep this magnificent shrine open in Louisville, but we are determined to share this wonderful Museum with the maximum number of people, not matter what it takes."
The museum is located at 3302 Grand Avenue, near Louis Coleman Jr. Drive.
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