Written by: Mike Adkinson
The main dining room at the Sarasota Yacht Club was near capacity when Mote CEO Michael Crosby spoke to those who had assembled to hear his plans. A truly eloquent speaker, he began by acknowledging that he wanted to share some of the past, present and future with this local community.
Over the past few weeks our local media has focused mostly on the grand new plan for Mote Marine Education Aquarium, which will open in 2020 in Benderson Park. The new facility will be state of the art and over 700,000 people are expected to attend in the first year alone. The $130 million building is expected to be one of the top marine centers in the world and will operate with over 1 million gallons of sea water. To say that it will attract marine scientists from all around the country and from all around the world – might stand as a significant understatement.
Dr. Crosby is of course very proud of the new facility and has begun the process of seeking the funding needed to support this very visionary project. But while the spotlight is primarily focused on the coming reality of the shiny new facility, he acknowledged that its creation was simply an essential step that was needed to open up space for the truly important “end game at the City Island facility”.
Although Mote hovers around the top of the stack of world class marine research facilities, it has exhausted all space for researchers to conduct their tests and studies. The current facility on the ICW and Gulf of Mexico provides an ideal location for maritime research, however the growing demands for the education and administrative services were in conflict with demands for laboratory and research space. When the new facility opens in 2020, the entire space at City Island will convert to a maritime research center that will be unlike any other existing facility in the world.
At this point the audience quickly sensed a sparkling enthusiasm. Dr Crosby was now sharing a vision that was truly inspirational for him and for the leagues of his guilt who fully recognize the important role that oceans are going to play in the future of mankind. While some might look upwards and assume most new breakthroughs will emerge from space explorations and our abilities to harness our solar system, marine biologists recognize the extraordinary potentials which exist within our oceans. This is what drives Dr. Crosby and it was exciting to be in the room alongside him, as he could not conceal his passion.
City Island is the future home of what will become a hot bed for marine biological breakthroughs. “City Island in Sarasota will become to maritime research what Silicon Valley has been to computer technology. The ideas and solutions emerging from this area will be truly fantastic.”
Some have regretted that “our local aquarium is going to move away” and others have speculated that the existing facilities might be converted to a less desirable role or activity but the message was clear today. “Our Mote” on City Island is changing their game a bit but their future role could serve to help launch some of the most important innovations and most successful entrepreneurship’s of this century.
NOTE – As an active member of this ArmaLido community I have participated with many projects and I’ve witnessed many speakers as they addressed local audiences but not until today had I observed a room full of accomplished people uniformly render such a clear reflection of pride and approval. They stood and gave Dr. Crosby a resounding expression of their appreciation.