The opening of a dinosaur museum in Cocoa Beach has been pushed back to 2014, as its founders line up the last pieces of funding and resolve logistical issues triggered by political unrest in Egypt.
Donna and Steve Cayer, who have operated The Dinosaur Store on West Cocoa Beach Causeway since 1995, say they plan to open the museum on the second and third floors of the store next spring.
They received approval last week from the Brevard County Tourist Development Council for a $100,000 capital facilities grant to pay for additional exhibit construction.
The grant — which would come from the 5 percent tax on hotel room rentals — goes before the Brevard County Commission for final approval later this month.
Space Coast Office of Tourism Executive Director Rob Varley said the museum is “an amazing attraction. We’ve got to support this. It’s going to be a tremendous draw.”
The Cayers project that their nonprofit Museum of Dinosaurs and Ancient Cultures will be a significant tourism attraction for the area, bringing 93,000 visitors a year, with about 60 percent of them coming from outside Brevard County. Many of the out-of-town visitors will stay overnight, spending money at local hotels, restaurants and retail shops. The Cayers also expect the museum to attract 12,000 students on school tours, as well as cruise passengers on port-of-call stops at Port Canaveral.
Steve Cayer said the museum’s presence in Cocoa Beach will help keep visiting cruise passengers on the Space Coast, rather than them spending the day at an Orlando-area theme park.
“It’s just going to be first-class,” said beachside hotel owner Bob Baugher of Cocoa Beach, the vice chairman of the Brevard County Tourist Development Council. “This will be a field trip destination, and it can be marketed 50 different ways. This will upgrade the town. To me, this is exactly what Cocoa Beach needs. It is long overdue for the Cocoa Beach area.”
Cocoa Beach Mayor Dave Netterstrom said he was “absolutely amazed” when he saw some of artifacts the Cayers were planning to exhibit.