Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Akron's new aquariam will reunite Shamu with NE Ohio

I'm not sure it's a deal that will put Akron "on the map" but it's certainly unique. I'm beginning to believe the whole town will revolve around the University of Akron before it's over.

The plan, to be announced later today, calls for a new aquarium to be built adjacent to campus that will support the university's new Marine Science degree program while also being a regional draw in the absence of Sea World.

I'm all for bringing Marine Science to the U of A as a new major, but I'm not sure the $50 million price tag for a major aquarium is the best use of private and government dollars. I'm also not sure that a "Shamu-like" exhibit will sell, but who am I to judge?

I'm told the exhibit will include dolphins, walruses, a gazillion different type of fish, and a 500-thousand gallon killer whale tank that will be open to the public by 2011. Not enough room for water ski shows, but there will still be plenty for a family aquatic experience.
With the right marketing, it will also be a magnet that helps push through a new hotel -- which city leaders so desperately want anyway -- that will include a "Disney" type of a feel with costumed characters working in the lobby and wakeup calls from talking mermaids.

I still have home video of taking my oldest son to Sea World and sitting in the splash zone. I never realized how much I missed that park until it wasn't here any more.

Project leaders believe that selling the naming rights (I'm told they've already approached ACME) will help cover the cost of the new aquarium, which will be built somewhere between the new football stadium and Route 8. It will be visible from the highway I'm told with a domed roof that will change the skyline as you view downtown from the East.
I'm also told that if it's successful, additional properties could be seized on the other side or Route 8 to relocate the Akron Zoo from the West side and make both attractions more visible to traffic.
Save me a seat in the splash zone.


Anonymous said...

I have been told that if you buy season tickets for Zips football you will also get a free season pass to the new aquariam. What a Deal. Way to go Mayor Don.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Do you think this will really happen? It seems major league.

Anonymous said...

Once again, Eric Mansfield gets the scoop first. He is truly Akron's finest reporter.

Anonymous said...

Wake-up calls from talking mermaids? Walruses? What's not to love?! Eric Mansfield -- you've done it again! (My guess -- the BJ won't touch this story with a 10-foot pole.)

Anonymous said...

I would love to have a Sea World type aquarium closer to home! My girls have shamu.com as our home page ( you can watch Shamu swimming around) and they have never been there. I am curious as to how much money and space the city will put into this. I can name several areas that could use a little more attention. You know me well enough to know what those areas are Eric!
thanks for the news!

Anonymous said...

Anybody notice that it's April 1?

Anonymous said...

Demonstrating his usual humility, Eric Mansfield neglected to say that he personally committed the millions needed to fund the project, with WKYC and Time Warner Cable Akron being the primary donors and Eric selling all of his possessions including his home to make up the difference. We love you, Eric!

Your friends at The University of Akron

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