When it comes to money losers, there are a lot of ways to cut the cake…
Which brings us to the just-announced, $15 million aquarium going into Crown Center. This isn’t the first time a local fish wish has been tossed about. But this is no pie-in-the-sky, it’s the real deal.
Not that there won’t be casualties…
The aquarium will knock out the first floor Hall‘s Crown Center’s mens store and all or part of its second floor where cards, silver and china are displayed. The third floor womens section will reportedly remain intact. The men’s store will reopen after moving to the retail part of Crown Center.
So will it work? Yes and no.
Frankly $15 million is chump change where aquariums are concerned.
"The Tennessee Aquarium attracts over a million visitors annually, pumping external revenue into the local economy while carrying out its mission of educating people about the critical importance of understanding and protecting our freshwater ecologies," a recent study states.
But having spent some time in Chattanooga, I can tell you in no small part that aquarium’s success is the result of an extensive, overall effort by the city to convert its downtown into a regional, family-oriented tourist Mecca.
The aquarium alone dropped 45 million 1992 dollars into the project, alongside another $120 million in adjacent improvements. It was since doubled after the addition a few years ago of a second building. And four years back Salt Lake City looked at a $34 million aquarium, so it costs some serious jack to do it right.
Time will tell, but at least it won’t fall entirely on the shoulders of taxpayers.
Think of it as a battle between the forces of Good Things Come in Small Packages and the Size Matters crowd.