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.

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