Greater Cleveland Aquarium will open doors in late January

CLEVELAND - The Greater Cleveland Aquarium will open its doors to the public on January 21. But if you can't wait until then, annual passes are now on sale and they include a sneak peek two days before the public.

It will be the first time Marinescape will transform an aqua dream into a masterpiece in North America. Not to mention, the Greater Cleveland Aquarium will be the first independent one in Ohio.

"Cleveland was interesting because there's not another freestanding aquarium within nearly a five hour driving radius, explained Greater Cleveland Aquarium GM Tami Brown. "Cleveland also came to the table with a great public-private financial deal so it just made sense for Marinescape to choose Cleveland."

The aquarium will be home to more than 5,000 fresh water and salt water fish. And as you walk through the glass sea tube tunnel, you won't be able to avoid seeing sharks.

"We'll have alligators, including a baby alligator that people can interact with. We'll have starfish, rays and baby sand sharks that you can also interact with. Then we'll have the shark tank, which will hold about 15 sharks of various kinds, lots of those beautiful coral reef fish, rays and eels," said Brown.

Those who purchase an annual pass for $50 can get a sneak peek at the aqua paradise on January 19 and 20, 2012. 

"This is also the first aquarium Marinescape is building with the idea that they will operate it for the long-term. We're creating a lot of models. It's an exciting project," Brown said.

Prior to the agreement with Cleveland, Marinescape would be hired to design and build aquariums by other communities but after it was built, they'd hand them the keys and tech manuals and they were out of the mix. But the Greater Cleveland Aquarium will be the first Marinescape will own and operate. It's possible Marinescape will expand in North America.

"We're expecting 400,000-500,000 people the first year. But honestly if you look at what happened in Cincinnati, they got over 1,000,000 visitors in the first year," said Brown.

The 70,000 square foot, 42 tank aquarium is expected to generate $27 million while creating 40 full time jobs.

"If you look at what's going to open up in Cleveland over the next three years, it's a very exciting story. We happen to get to be first, which is wonderful. Close on our heels will be the new casino and then the new Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art, then the new Cleveland Convention Center and Medical Mart and a whole bunch of hotels that go along with that," explained Brown. "Clevelanders need to really start looking at how exciting and vibrant this place is becoming."

For more information on ticket pricing, visit the aquarium: greaterclevelandaquarium.com/

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