Shreveport Aquarium opening date, ticket info announced
July 16, 2017
The Shreveport Aquarium has an opening date: Aug. 31. Jon Whitehead, a co-founder and one of five partners behind the company that is creating the aquarium on the Shreveport riverfront, announced the date during a speech Tuesday.
Planet Aqua Group had said for months that it was aiming for an August opening. Whitehead said Tuesday that the company couldn't set a firm date until materials needed for aquarium construction arrived from overseas. Those materials now have arrived, permitting him to announce a firm Aug. 31 opening date.
Whitehead shared more details, including admission prices: $12 for adults, $8 for children. Tickets will be time stamped, permitting visitors to enter the aquarium during a time window, to prevent attendance from overwhelming the 21,000-square-foot exhibit space, he said. Aquarium construction is under way in the old Barnwell Center on the river side of the Clyde Fant Parkway downtown.
Whitehead's company, Planet Aqua Group, and the City of Shreveport announced in September that the aquarium would go into the Barnwell Center.
The city provided money from a 2011 bond fund to pay for basic improvements to the Barnwell, including HVAC updates. The city retains ownership of the center.
Whitehead said all other money for development of the exhibit has come from the five partners or from other private sources.
Whitehead shared details during remarks to the Shreveport Rotary Club.
The aquarium and its restaurant will employ 60 people. Whitehead said Planet Aqua Group received 2,500 applications and soon will select employees.
He described the Shreveport Aquarium as the first of several that Planet Aqua Group will develop for mid-sized cities such as Shreveport-Bossier City.
"People always ask me 'why Shreveport? Why Shreveport?'" he said. "I say 'why not Shreveport?'"
The company is negotiating now for an aquarium in Thousand Oaks, California. Whitehead said the company intends to establish its corporate office in Shreveport for all of its aquariums and any other entertainment exhibitions it develops.
Most larger cities now have aquariums, said Whitehead, who has supervised their construction in Charlotte, Toronto and other cities while employed by an exhibition company.
The company's aquariums for cities such as Shreveport-Bossier City will be smaller than those in bigger markets. Whitehead said Planet Aqua Group has worked to frame expectations, meaning no huge tanks with whale sharks and marine mammals.
"The exhibits are obviously smaller," he said. "There are about 20 different exhibits. They are very hands-on, lots of touch tanks." He said exhibits will focus heavily on permitting visitors to touch sea life, including jellyfish, starfish and sharks.
The aquarium's restaurant will open around the same time as the aquarium, he said. The restaurant, called "Salt" (for sea, air, land, time), will emphasize food sourced from Louisiana. Want Alaska salmon? Go to another restaurant, Whitehead said.
He said Planet Aqua Group will book events at the aquarium and already has booked four, including one wedding and another event for 300 people before Aug. 31.