No, tank you: Closing aquarium is not an option
In the three years I spent as director of marketing at Great Lakes Aquarium, I heard it all the time: "Close it down!" Sadly, it's just not that simple. First, the city does not own the aquarium. Second, if it did close, there would be $15 millio...
In the three years I spent as director of marketing at Great Lakes Aquarium, I heard it all the time: "Close it down!"
Sadly, it's just not that simple.
First, the city does not own the aquarium. Second, if it did close, there would be $15 million in bonds issued by the state that the city would have to pay back. This would not look good on our record the next time Duluth goes to the state asking for help in developing a new project.
The aquarium's finances are actually looking a bit brighter these days. Because Ripley's is no longer running the facility, there is a $250,000 savings in management fees. A general admission price increase should generate about $100,000. Three people were laid off in February, saving another $100,000, conservatively. I know. I was one of them.
Perennially troubled that it is, the Great Lakes Aquarium is Duluth's most-visited paid attraction and a major anchor on the harborfront. Since it was purpose-built as an aquarium, changing the building into anything else would cost several million dollars. If it were to close, we could be left with a huge, empty, hulking building on key real estate to be seen by every visitor to Duluth.
I can understand how my friends and former colleagues must feel when they see Mayor Don Ness' proposal to reduce the city's subsidy by another $100,000. The hard truth is that it's part of the sacrifice required of every Duluthian in these trying economic times. I certainly know that. I also know we can survive and come back.
Tom Majewski is the former director of marketing for the Great Lakes Aquarium.