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Monday, April 17, 2006

Major Expansion On Tap For Aquarium
Published: Apr 14, 2006 Tampa Tribune

TAMPA - The president of The Florida Aquarium hopes to announce next fall a $40 million to $50 million expansion plan that will include new dolphin, sea lion and giant shark exhibits and a revamped remodeled lobby.

Thom Stork said Thursday that he plans to submit a long-range plan to the aquarium's board of directors in October that will include the projects. If the board approves the project, the aquarium would need to raise money from private donors.

"Fresh attractions will give visitors a reason to come back again," Stork said. Attendance at the attraction has been up the past several years, but the 620,000 visitors last year was still below projections. Aquarium officials had predicted before the facility opened in 1995 that attendance would surpass a million patrons a year.

Stork said he would like to remodel the attraction's two-story lobby in 2008.
He estimates that would cost $10 million. Stork said he wants to install multimedia presentations and interactive displays to liven up guests first impressions of the now "sterile lobby." The area features mostly open space leading to exhibits, except for an ice cream stand and a stingray tank.

Later phases of Stork's proposal are more ambitious. Stork said he'd like to add new dolphin, sea lion and giant shark exhibits in 2010. Doing so could cost an estimated $30 million to $40 million, he said. Focus groups have expressed interest in seeing such creatures, Stork said.
Stork, a former marketing director at SeaWorld and Busch Gardens, has pushed to make an aquarium visit more entertaining in efforts to increase visitation.

The last capital project the aquarium undertook was a children's play area in 2004. The aquarium raised $2.4 million in donations and public grants to build it.

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Great News FLAQ Fans!

But I have one question...
Is it a tank for a giant shark, or a giant tank for many sharks? ;)

Enquiring Minds Want To know!

Dr. Tim


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