The ground has been broken and the Mississippi Aquarium project in Gulfport is underway.
The highly anticipated Mississippi Aquarium has been in the works for several years and is slated to open in late 2019/early 2020. Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes was on hand at what has been called the “sail”ebration” to discuss what an important step forward this is for the not only the city of Gulfport, but for the surrounding areas and the state.
“With Gulfport’s leadership embracing the vision of bringing a world-class aquarium to the Coast, we are now seeing a development boom occurring in the surrounding communities and across our region,” said Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes. “It is a matter of time until the transformational impact of this project helps to change the look of Mississippi’s coastline. Today’s construction kick-off is monumental for all of our State – for now, and for generations to come!”
The renderings of the Aquarium revealed showcase Mississippi Aquarium’s 12 animal habitats, including North American River Otters, American Alligators, an Aviary and Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins. The site sits on 5.8 acres with over 80,000 square feet of exhibit space. The Mississippi Aquarium’s impact will attract visitors, create jobs, promote and enhance marine research and inspire educational awareness.
“Mississippi Aquarium is designed to highlight our river and coastal heritage, as well as serve as an educational enriching hub to aquatic understanding,” said David Kimmel, CEO & President of Mississippi Aquarium. “I am so excited to finally see all of our planning becoming a reality.”
Governor Bryant spoke at the event and discussed the importance that the project will have in the region. Afterward, he posted a stat to his Facebook page highlighting the economic impact of the new aquarium.
“The economic impact is estimated to create 900 new jobs and $41 million in tax revenue annually,” he said.
While a large portion of the $93 million construction costs will be paid by taxpayers, according to the aquarium’s website, the attraction will be self-sustaining and will operate at no cost to the taxpayer once it opens.
Students from Gulfport High School participated in “Hoisting of the Sails”. The sails in Mississippi Aquarium’s logo represent the Aquarium’s core values: education, conservation and community.