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Cabarrus Magazine

Ground Breaking Ceremony Planned for New Aquarium

Sep 10, 2013 12:17PM ● By Jason Huddle
CONCORD – Merlin Entertainments Group will officially breaks ground on its newest attraction, SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord Aquarium, on Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 10:30 a.m. at Concord Mills.

The morning’s activities will include speeches from civic leaders including City of Concord Mayor J. Scott Padgett and Donna Carpenter, President/CEO, Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau; painting of a sea mural, commissioned by area artist Bridgit Scheide, by local children; and an official “turning of the sand” ceremony.

“After careful research, Charlotte-Concord was determined to be the perfect fit for the sixth SEA LIFE Aquarium to open in the U.S.,” said James Paulding, Merlin’s Head of Openings for North America. “The North Carolina area’s proximity to mountain rivers, lakes and the ocean coupled with its high volume of tourists made it the best spot for our new marine attraction. We can’t wait to open our doors to the Charlotte-Concord community.”

Scheduled to be completed in early spring 2014, the 36,000 square-foot aquarium will be the sixth SEA LIFE to open in the U.S. The aquarium will house over 5,000 marineSeaLifeAquarium_NC creatures, including sharks, stingrays, an octopus, seahorses, jellyfish and thousands of colorful fish, in over 20 spectacular displays. Initially, 26,000 square feet of the attraction will be developed for the 2014 opening with another 10,000 square feet planned for future expansion.

“We look forward to introducing a fun, new, engaging and educational attraction to the City of Concord and the Charlotte area. In addition to creatures from oceans around the world, SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord will also house species native to North Carolina and the nearby Atlantic Coast,” said Chris Andrews, Senior Curator for SEA LIFE U.S. “This aquarium will provide a strong interactive and educational experience for kids to learn more about life in the ocean and what they can do to help protect it.”

Visitors to SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord will travel on an immersive journey from the fresh waters of the Catawba River in the Blue Ridge Mountains to the salt waters of the Atlantic Ocean and beyond. The stunning centerpiece in the aquarium will be a 12’-deep tropical ocean tank with an acrylic walk-through underwater tunnel. The new aquarium also will feature several unique interactive opportunities including viewing windows that offer a glimpse into the ocean itself, a touchpool experience, engaging talks, feeding demonstrations and a behind-the-scenes tour to show guests how it all works.

The new SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord Aquarium is going to be a very positive addition to Concord,” remarks Concord Mayor Scott Padgett. “Not only will it have a major impact on tourism by drawing new and repeat visitors to our area, it will also boost our local economy by creating new jobs. We are very pleased to welcome SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord and Merlin Entertainments to our city’s growing roster of outstanding attractions, hotels, shopping and dining options.”

“Concord Mills is pleased to expand its directory offerings to include SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord,” said Ray Soporowski, VP/General Manager of Concord Mills. “Already the number one tourist destination in the state, Concord Mills will become even better once the new aquarium opens. In addition to shopping and dining, now families will be able to provide their children with a special educational experience without leaving the mall. It’s a great added value.”

For the latest updates and to follow the progress of SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord, visit or or @SEALIFECC.

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