Construction of massive Concord aquarium gets underway

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CONCORD, N.C. - Concord leaders met Wednesday morning to commemorate the construction of a massive new aquarium in Concord Mills.

The SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord Aquarium will be located where the NASCAR Speedpark used to be. The Speedpark track remains outside the building adjacent to the aquarium.

The aquarium is attached to the mall to make it easy for shoppers to access, but the Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau hopes it will also attract a brand new crowd to the area.

Mother Denise Davis said she knows she’ll be a more frequent visitor.

“It's pretty cool. Actually, we’re really excited about the aquarium so I think we'll be here at Concord Mills a little more often," she said.

The aquarium, which is being developed by London-based Merlin Entertainment Groups, will be 36,000 square feet once completed. It will initially be 26,000 square feet with the additional 10,000 square feet set aside for future expansion.

The aquarium is scheduled to open in spring 2014 with 5,000 marine creatures on display. Local company Rodgers Builders, Inc. is constructing the facility.

The aquarium is expected to create more than 50 jobs once open.

The Concord location will be SEA LIFE’s sixth aquarium in the United States. The company is the world’s largest aquarium chain with more than 45 aquariums around the world that are visited by more than 50 million people each year.

The Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau doesn't have a projection of how many people it expects to visit the aquarium in its first year, but officials said it will make for a popular family destination and school field trips.

To find out more about the aquarium, click here.