City breaks ground for new aquarium at Concord Mills - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

City breaks ground for new aquarium at Concord Mills

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CONCORD, NC (WBTV) -

At Concord Mills, a groundbreaking that was more of a sand shoveling, marked a first for our area.

"There's nothing else like this around," said Concord Mayor Scott Padgett as local officials stood in a ceremonial sandbox to commemorate the start of a construction project. "We've got the one and only in the region." 

Padgett was talking about an aquarium - 36,000 square feet of SEA LIFE attached right to the mall. 

The aquarium, owned and operated by the international company SEA LIFE, will open in the spring of 2014, and it will feature over 5,000 species of underwater creatures, including sharks, stingrays, seahorses, and jellyfish.

Ray Soporowski, General Manager of Concord Mills, expects SEA LIFE to be a boost.  "We are the largest indoor shopping center in the state, so we already have a great draw," he said. "But this is just going to bring more people to our venue, and it's also going to help us attract more tenants."

The aquarium will also bring 50 jobs, and more tourism for Concord and Cabarrus County, according to Padgett. 

"This is going to bring thousands of people in a year to add to this destination," he said, adding that local leaders fought hard to land the  deal.  "We were competing against everybody because everybody in the United State would want one of these facilities," he said.

But SEA LIFE seems to favors partnerships with malls...the busier the better.

"We have developed this area at exit 49 as a destination, and I think they saw hey we've already got the traffic counts," Padgett said. 

Concord and Cabarrus Officials offered Sea Life a three year business development grant.

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