Upstream dreams.

Author:Schwab, Robert
Position:Plans for Denver aquarium cut short - Brief Article - Column
 
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I GUESS I HAVE A LONG MEMORY FOR POLITICAL THEATER.

As the Ocean Journey financial drama has played out -- before a backdrop of long lines of parents and school kids waiting under the sun for a last look at a favorite fish -- I couldn't help but remember how Denver's power brokers brooked no interference in their plans to land the huge aquarium downtown.

"The folks downtown by God wanted the attraction downtown," said Brian Vogt, president of the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce.

Vogt and other south-metro business leaders had been working to establish a Colorado Aquatic Center at Riverfront, on the banks of the South Platte River somewhat upstream from today's Ocean Journey.

Riverfront was a failed shopping center that was lying vacant at the corner of Santa Fe and Littleton boulevards on the South Platte when Ocean Journey organizers began to line up some big local money to put an aquarium downtown.

Vogt and the others hoped to convert Riverfront to a for-profit venture. He said last month that plans called for using no public money to establish the business, constantly changing attractions to keep the public interested, and for forming a scuba club that might add regular repeat revenue for the aquatic facility.

"It was purely a private-sector deal," said Vogt. And the project had the design of a successful business plan.

"I can't tell you today what might have happened," Vogt said. What did happen was that potential investors in the south-metro project got skittish and backed away when it became clear that...

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