Monday, January 24, 2011

Ogden’s Aquarium - Talk About the WOW Factor

If the City and the County are serious in promoting, developing and investing in the future let us invest in something that isn’t just a fad

By: Rob Garner

I say if you’re going to build something why don’t you build something that will actually attract people?

When you talk about a WOW factor what conjures up more excitement in your mind, a field house or an aquarium? What contributes more to the community as a whole? What is something that can be enjoyed by one and all? Yes an aquarium would be more money but the financial probability of a successful aquarium would be multiples better than that a field house. What would contribute more to the community and put the city on the map? With that in mind please watch the attached YouTube videos. Prepare yourself be mesmerized:
These videos were taken at the Churaumi Aquarium in Okinawa Japan, one of the larger aquariums but not as large as the one in Georgia.

Let me point out a few considerations for the community and the decision makers:
  1. Audience? – Broad appeal for young and old, athletic and non-athletic from just about everyone in Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. I’m constantly amazed at the number people from Montana, Idaho and Wyoming that tell me once that they know that I’m from Utah that they have been here. Why because of Lagoon, the closest amusement park for 600 miles. Out of State visitors will need overnight accommodations and places to eat.
  2. Cost of Construction? – Two examples of fairly recent facilities that range in size and cost: Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas - Completed at a cost of nearly $60 million, the facility opened on June 20, 2000 and since then the Shark Reef Aquarium has inspired over 10 million visitors, and has been visited by over 150,000 of the Las Vegas Valley's school children that have had the opportunity to visit Shark Reef under the school group program.
Here are some illustrative links (Please click on the pictures in the first link):
The Georgia Aquarium, the largest in the world, was built and completed in late 2005 for $290 million (mainly by private donations). Since then there have been over 11 million visitors to the aquarium and it employs some 400 people:
There are several aquariums around the country but none of any real attraction or notoriety in close proximity. Ogden and Weber County has the opportunity to get involved in the building of one locally that would make a difference to the community and one where the local government’s contribution would be affordable. One large enough to get the WOW factor. A facility that could start out with one larger sized tank but then is added onto in “wings and exhibits” much like museums do.

Though this is more expensive than a field house (though the costs of this project seem to keep going up,) an aquarium is more likely to accomplish the objective of RAMP, the City and the County. The incremental financial difference between the two projects is not that much but the WOW factor and financial viability are.

Doesn’t Sandy City have an Aquarium? – Yes but it is not getting any traction in the community and frankly I feel that it was because they thought small instead of large, they missed the mark. Ogden should consider a large tank in its initial project with smaller tanks and exhibits to be added over time. In the future Sandy City’s aquarium could most likely be absorbed into Ogden’s aquarium. If Ogden / Weber County were to get behind the idea the city could very well garner whatever attention or donor support the Sandy facility has attracted earmarked but not yet collected on.

Admission Costs? – They vary in the range of $14.00 to 28.00 per person dependent on the facility. Many people buy season passes and school aged kids get discounts. Some of the aquariums offer local discounts as well. Several events take place at these facilities from weddings to company after hour business functions. This would be affordable entertainment at any age.
  1. Financing? – For one thing naming right on an aquarium would be much more lucrative and easier to come by than they would be for a Fieldhouse. Additionally private fund raising for this type of sustaining facility would also be easier, but on top of that there is a good chance for Federal and State financial help. Private donors could donate specific exhibits or wings (named after them) based on their level of donation. Collaborative relationships could be set up with other large aquariums that might also yield additional contributions.
  2. Can one be built so far from the ocean and in a seismic area? – The answer is yes. When you think of inland locations think of where Atlanta, Georgia is located or San Antonio, Texas where Sea World has established itself. When you think of seismic, think of California and yet several are located in California.
  3. Where to locating the facility? – Ogden has two prime vacant locations, the Ogden River Parkway property that as of yet has not moved forward, and the property just north of the Front Runner Station on west Wall Ave. Both locations would be far timelier and efficiently utilized than looking at the acquisition and destruction of existing structures in the immediate downtown area of Ogden.
If the City and the County are serious in promoting, developing and investing in the future let us invest in something that isn’t just a fad (think of the old and since removed White City) but in something that will put us on the map. Something that would create jobs, create a ripple effect throughout the greater Weber County community and something that would attract all kinds of people rather than an elite few that participate in a specialized sport. Let’s put our efforts toward building a legacy that will mean something for generations to come while kick starting the local economy.

I realize that the City, RAMP and the County only have a limited amount of funding; as such both the field house and the Aquarium are not obtainable. Please investigate the possibility of an aquarium before you commit to a field house.

This could be a reality and it is not out of reach with a concerted effort from the City and County government entities assisting private investors and or donors. Watch the YouTube videos again and dream about it folks.


Rob Garner
Ogden, Utah


David R. said...

I can't imagine the local Animal Rights nut-jobs getting behind this; they already are up-in-arms over Sea World, San Diego.

How about Weber County use that same money to build and fund the proven-best primary and secondary schools in the entire nation?

Instead of a big fish tank?

That's what I want said...

So how did the whole Salt Lake City aquarium work out? Haven't seen or heard a single thing about it? And don't place stats from Vegas! Where's an aquarium in a little town the size of Ogden? That's what I want to see.

blackrulon said...

Perhaps all of the people who declined to fund the ice tower or haven't come out to privately fund the fieldhouse/veledrome will sponsor this dream project. naming rights are a iffy solution to raising funds. it took several years for West Valley City to sell the naming rights to the E center.

AWM said...

Here's a thought, clean up the Ogden River so it's once again the natural aquarium that it once was

Beer Drinker, Fish Lover said...

Not sure of the cost to build but the Aquarium in Newport Oregon is small but right off Hwy 101. Cost to attend is reasonable, family memberships are good, volunteer docents seem to be older but well informed. NOAA will soon be changing from Seattle to Newport.

Also being 3 blocks from the Rogue Brewery and restaurant is a bonus.

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