Would McMahon’s $85M Aquarium Reel in Tourists and Investments for Syracuse?

Posted on October 14, 2021


Syracuse, N.Y. -- Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon is pitching his proposed $85 million Syracuse aquarium as more than a big entertainment venue. He says it will be a major economic stimulus for the community.

“Hundreds of trade, construction jobs, hundreds of permanent jobs,” he said while making the proposal Monday at the Syracuse Inner Harbor, a former state Barge Canal terminal the city has been trying, with only limited success, to turn into a recreational, residential and commercial attraction for more than 20 years.

“But then you look at what it would do for this neighborhood, and the potential this neighborhood has,” he added. “It will be a catalyst for this neighborhood moving forward.”

But would 600,000 gallons of aquatic exhibits really be an economic winner? Some observers say it certainly could, if done right. Others question the wisdom of spending so many public dollars on an aquarium when local governments have other pressing needs.


CenterState CEO, the Syracuse area’s chamber of commerce and principal economic development organization, is backing McMahon’s proposal.

Andrew Fish, senior vice president of business development at CenterState, said an aquarium could not only serve as a “demand driver” for the local tourism industry and for additional development at the harbor. It would improve the quality of life in the community.

“Jobs are growing and people are in demand, so the more we can do to enhance the quality of life here, to invest in our community, to make this a place where people want to live and work, I think it’s great,” he said. “It’s not just the tourism opportunity that this is going to drive, which I think it will. When you look across upstate, you don’t see anything like this, so I think it will be drawing from a relatively large area.”

Read the full article on syracuse.com, here.

Media Coverage

Founder of Clutch Delivery Celestin Abwe and Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh
Media Coverage | 10/03/2023

Clutch Delivery Looks To Grow Through Syracuse Surge Accelerator

Celestin Abwe is one of five entrepreneurs participating in the inaugural Syracuse Surge Accelerator program.

Tech Hubs Graphic
Media Coverage | 10/02/2023

NY SMART I-Corridor Makes a Strong Case In Tech Hubs Application

Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse's joint Tech Hub application to create the NY SMART I-Corridor received praise from the Editori

City of Syracuse
Media Coverage | 09/27/2023

Two Central New York Consortiums Awarded Federal Funding Through Defense Manufacturing Program

The Upstate Defense Consortium, in partnership with Empire State Development, CenterState CEO, the Griffiss Institute, Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families and FuzeHub received $5 million from the Defense…

Rob Emergent 2023
Media Coverage | 08/28/2023

Emergent's Driving Leadership Podcast with Rob Simpson

CenterState CEO President Rob Simpson chats with Emergent Partner Bill Berthel about exciting new opportunities for our region.

NY Smart I-Corridor Graphic
Media Coverage | 08/17/2023

Syracuse Joins Rochester and Buffalo in Federal Tech Hub Application

The three metro areas of Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse submitted a joint application to become a federally-recognized Tech Hub this wee

Alan Rottenberg, Dave Mankiewicz, and Donna Gillespie gather to celebrate Central New York's Career Apprenticeship Initiative.
Media Coverage | 08/10/2023

Career Apprenticeship Initiative Aims To Retain CNY's College-Educated Talent

CenterState CEO; Alan Rottenberg, founder of the Canadian Career Apprenticeship Initiative; the Kingston Economic Development Corporation

CenterState CEO President Rob Simpson being interviewed at The Tech Garden Expansion Kickoff.
Media Coverage | 08/10/2023

The Tech Garden Expansion Project Officially Gets Underway

CenterState CEO, local leaders and supporters gathered to announced the onset of construction for the transformational expansion of its b

Syracuse Surge Accelerator finalists announced
Media Coverage | 08/08/2023

Syracuse Surge Accelerator Announces Five Finalists

CenterState CEO announced the five companies selected to participate in the first year of the new and innovative Syracuse Surge A

Media Coverage | 07/27/2023

Syracuse Alumni Turn College Town into Hometown

Graduates of Syracuse University speak to the success they’ve found in Central New York.