CNY Arts, Inc.


Letter from ACLA on the Proposed Aquarium

Dear Artists & Arts Aficionados,

There is a conversation happening in Onondaga that we all should be a part of - it concerns creating a new asset for the County and what that means for the County's future and coffers. There are opinions on all sides of this idea - to build an aquarium at the Inner Harbor, just as there were all kinds of opinions about saving the Landmark Theater, building the Civic Center and theater complex, or creating the Amphitheater and the Everson Museum. Below is a link to the County parks department that you can go to and learn more and/or communicate with the County. When you think about the totality of the arts, culture and entertainment sector and what we collectively do for the County - whether it's stimulating the local economy, providing arts education, or simply serving the residents and visitors with entertaining shows and exhibits, there should at least be a considered conversation about the Aquarium and how projects like this - and all the arts - help the County in a variety of ways. 

We applaud the County Executive Ryan McMahon for providing an aspirational vision of our future. We encourage you to read this message from the Arts and Culture Leadership Alliance and do your own investigation on this important topic to join the conversation. Thank you for your ongoing support of the arts in Central New York!


CNY Arts 


County Executive McMahon has proposed building an aquarium in the inner harbor to continue that area's development. This addition could add to the existing assets such as the Amphitheatre, Onondaga Lake restoration and Park, the Mets stadium, as well as fuel economic development in our region.

To that end a Feasibility Study has been prepared, and here is part of their report. We thought you would benefit from reading through some of their work.

The Onondaga County Aquarium Feasibility Study, prepared by Consult Econ, Inc. with Behan Planning and Design (October 1, 2021) identifies two Market Segments for the proposed aquarium, with the "Tourist Market" being of special interest to the arts, heritage and cultural community. According to the Feasibility Study, 50 percent of visitors to the Onondaga County Aquarium would be drawn from the Tourist Market.

The ConsultEcon Feasibility Study identifies the Tourism Market as "travelers to Onondaga County". The Feasibility Study, shows if the Aquarium attendance from the Tourism Market occurs even at the Low Range as identified by the study, there will be a boost to visitation and attendance at arts, cultural, and heritage facilities and ticketed events.

Table VI-1 in the Onondaga County Aquarium Feasibility Study forecasts that attendance from the Tourism Market segment will fall in the range between 195,904 (Low) and 292,209 (High) on an annual basis. The Feasibility Study assumes that Tourist Market visitors will be half "day tripper" and half overnight visitors. Even if only the Low Range forecast for the Tourism Market is achieved, that is roughly 100,000 new Day Trips and 100,000 new Overnight stays that would be added to current totals. We know from our own experience that Day Trip and Overnight visitors to Central New York are a vital component of our respective audiences and memberships.

By aggressively co-marketing the live events, festivals, museums. and galleries of the arts, heritage cultural groups would welcome new visitors to Central New York, would benefit tremendously as a group and individually if even the Low Range forecast for the Tourism Market is achieved. Anything above the Low Range forecast would of course add to an already significant and positive impact on our respective organizations.

As a community, we are mindful of the potential and possibilities the Aquarium presents, not just to the inner harbor but our future. For this reason, we believe a considered conversation about the potential of such a project should be had and how it would fit into a total picture of arts, culture, heritage and entertainment here now and the sector's tremendous value to Onondaga County.


The Arts & Culture Leadership Alliance