Five Zoo Innovations That Have Been Around for Decades: #4

AT&T Dolphin Tales Georgia Aquarium dolphin

AT&T Dolphin Tales Georgia Aquarium

Stacey Tarpley continues her review of innovation in zoos…

I want to talk about the things that have been slowly happening, without much fanfare, across the United States in nearly every city from New York to Saint Louis to Portland. I want to talk about how things that the supposedly paradigm-changing design from Europe insists are innovative, or at least ‘rarely seen in zoos’, have actually been around for years (and in some cases, decades) here in the United States.

Zoo Innovation #4: Sneaking in the Veggies: Education Disguised as Fun, and Fun Disguised as Education

Ultimately, the zoo is supposed to be fun. But all AZA accredited zoos and aquariums must include education and conservation as part of their mission. As such, disguising conservation education into a fun, engaging experience is a recent innovation on which many zoos are still working. Today’s zoos are using many strategies (and often innovations unto themselves) to achieve this.

The first is a deeply thematic exhibit. Think theme park attraction quality storyline, thematic architecture and propping. Animals are not just being presented in their “natural” habitat; that’s just layer one. Add complex stories involving cultural, historical references, and conservation threats and solutions alongside imaginative, adventurous settings, and visitors are being swept away to another place and time to encounter an animal experience.

PGAV Dolphin Tales Georgia Aquarium

AT&T Dolphin Tales at Georgia Aquarium

In addition to the thematic exhibits, some zoos and aquariums are truly taking a cue from theme parks and are adding shows—from elaborate stage productions with lighting and sound to more modest (and therefore more often implemented and repeated multiple times throughout the zoo) keeper chats and training demos.

PGAV Glacier run at louisville zoo training panel

Glacier run at Louisville Zoo

Some zoos even embrace non-animal shows with a conservation message, like the puppet show at the Bronx Zoo.

Rides are also a commonplace element of a zoo these days, but the real innovation here is the integration of ride and animal habitat. From the very simple skyride across an African savanna exhibit, to monorail systems immersing guests in large enclosures. New ride systems are continuously being evaluated for the ability to direct guests exactly where the animals are, controlling flow, and generally controlling the experience as a whole.

Finally, interactions with animals are becoming more and more popular. This is a bit of a retro innovation as guests feeding animals has long been a tradition in historic zoos as well as in less than ideal zoos of today. But the innovation here is not in the interaction itself, but in how it is being achieved. Today’s interactions are highly controlled, managed and messaged by trained keepers, and provide the animals the choice of whether or not to participate. Regulations for dolphin encounters, for example, require a ‘sanctuary’ space into which dolphins may retreat if they decide they no longer want to participate. Giraffe feeds occur on a single platform and giraffes decide if they want to participate. Feedings in general occur on a timed schedule and the food is carefully allotted, allocated, recorded, and considered an integral part of the animals’ diets.

All of these provide a platform for communicating an educational message while guests are just having a great time.

What great data will be available in the 2014 Walt Disney Company Fact Book?

Disney castle

Throughout my years in the leisure time business, I have become known as a tenacious researcher and the one that is able to find data that others can’t. Therefore the reason I have chosen to report on secondary data as the basis of this and most of my prior Blooloop Blogs.

The quality and quantity of data available in each of Walt Disney annual Fact Books has always amazed me. While these books cover statistics pertaining to all operations of Disney, this Blog focuses only on Parks & Resorts. As far back as I can remember each of annual books has included the statistics (opening dates, resort acreage, ticket pricing – base and options available, #hotel venues, # hotel rooms) that are shown below for the most current year available (2013).

Prior years of the Disney Fact Book have included additional data as well. Take for example the 2010 fact book included the rarely quoted and often asked for number THEME PARK ACREAGE. In 2010 the Disneyland Resort was 85 acres and Magic Kingdom was 142 acres. I wonder if the current acreage will be listed in the 2014 Fact Book? The Fact Book for 2008 reported the Domestic Convention Space at Disney-Owned Resorts — In 2008, the Disneyland Hotel had 136,000 sq. ft. of Net Meeting Space. And, the “Estimated Workforce” was included in the 2005 Fact Book.

What do you think will be included in the latest Disney Fact Book? I don’t know about you, but I am hoping for capture rates, length of stay, merchandise per capita for each of the theme parks. Well, a girl can wish can’t she?

Disney Fact Book: Operations – Parks & Resorts, 2013

(You may need to adjust the zoom view in your browser to see all the figures!)

Disney 2013 factbook pg 8

Disney 2013 factbook pg 9

Disney 2013 factbook pg 10

Roller Coasters for the Non-Enthusiast

Jeff Havlik of PGAV destinations

We all know that coasters are the mainstay of many parks. They often drive the marketing campaigns with the eternal race for statistics such as the “tallest”, “fastest”, or “steepest.”

And they work. Guests show up wide-eyed and thrilled to ride the latest and greatest record breaking coaster. The coaster enthusiasts hungrily review every airtime hill and new maneuver. The rides are applauded by the industry and competitors, both parks and manufacturers, while at the same time they begin to lay plans to unseat the latest king. I’m a fan of this competitive spirit. It drives the industry to dream, innovate, design, and build. But I think that they can do more than simply fuel marketing and excite the enthusiasts.

cheetah hunt rollercoaster bush gardens tampa bay

If you look at the penetration of big coasters in a family park, they’re often quite lower than one would expect. Height restrictions, health restrictions, age, and the “fear factor” cause many guests to be non-riders, or “non-enthusiasts.” Shouldn’t these record-breaking coasters, which also often set records for capital expenditure, strive to capture the attention of the non-enthusiast as well? I believe these monumental attractions need to engage guests in ways other than just riding. For example, they should create a visual icon strong enough to be appreciated as a piece of sculpture like the tower of Cheetah Hunt (above) at Busch Gardens Tampa (BGT).

The ride should engage the guest on the surrounding walkways where the speed, force, and exhilaration can be experienced by everyone. Air at Alton Towers or Griffon (below) at Busch Gardens Williamsburg (BGW) are excellent examples, especially where the first drop of Griffon dives below the bridge.

Griffon rollercoaster at busch gardens williamsburg

When a guest on the path can see the coaster speed past, feel the wind, hear the roar, and see the faces of the riders, it creates a powerful, lasting impression. Add some interaction like the water effect at BGT’s Sheikra and BGW’s Griffon, and you have broadened the appeal well beyond the bounds of those that just ride the ride. On a hot day, there are often more people waiting for that splash than are in the ride queue (a slight exaggeration, but you get the point).

This broadening of appeal is tremendously important because it directly correlates to overall guest satisfaction. This enduring appeal will help continue to bring guests back to the park long after the first year attendance surge has died down, and another coaster has stolen the top spot. I do realize things are easier said than done. Mature parks that are trying to incorporate a big, new ride with a massive footprint and, worst of all, crane access to reach a 300-foot tall track, are forced to make room by tearing something down, placing the coaster on the outskirts of the park, or plowing through the parking lot.

thorpe park rollercoaster

But it doesn’t take much to draw the non-enthusiast in. Bringing the spectators in close to just a short piece of track (not the break run before the station) that showcases the ride’s speed, height, nimbleness, or whatever makes it special, can go a long way. When we look at the rankings of best coasters, the ones that have endured year to year, they aren’t all record holders. Some of the best ones are the ones that engage the non-enthusiast in enduring, thrilling, memory-making ways.

Images. 1 Jeff Havlik and 2. Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens Tampa courtesy of PGAV Destinations 3. Griffon courtesy of Busch Gardens Williamsburg 4. Rollercoaster at night, courtesy Thorpe Park.

The Buzz on Tracy Kahaner

Here at Blooloop, as a small company we haven’t done Meet the team Mondays as such a series would last less than a month. However, I thought it time I highlight the career, skills and all round wonderfulness of our indefatigable News Editor, Ms. Tracy Kahaner.

tracy a kahaner

If you read our site because of ours news, and thousands do, then here is a brief introduction to @TracyAK
and some insight as to why our news service is – and this is no marketing hyperbole – the best in the business.

B.K. (Before Kahaner)

When I started Blooloop my aim was to provide a reliable news service for professionals working in the attractions business. I looked at the various methods of doing this.

  • Have it automated
  • Get a third party agency
  • Get an expert

I decided against the first when I saw an item about, ‘Roger Federer’s Rollercoaster year” appear on many sites. I discounted the second when I realised that such news feeds were generally not put together by industry insiders but by huge agencies which also catered to hundreds of other vertical sectors, anything from off shore oil and gas to wastewater treatment.

Because finding the news that would be of most interest and use to our readers was not just about looking for key words on Google, the job needed a person who really knew the business, who lived and breathed it, who would be alive to the subtle ebbs and flows of the market and who would realise which items were important and which were not, who could appreciate which opinions pieces carried weight, and which did not. Put simply, someone who could separate the wheat from the chaff.

So early on I decided that our news feed should  be managed by an expert, be business orientated – we wouldn’t deal in rumours – and only be sourced from reputable/reliable sites.

Photos: Walt Disney, CV Wood, and Harrison Price

Ms. Kahaner and Buzz

Tracy lives in Santa Monica. A potted biography: like all Californians, she runs on the beach, does yoga and enoys driving along the freeway in open top cars with her blonde hair blowing in the wind. There is a portrait of a much older looking Tracy in her attic.

harrison buzz price with tracy kahaner

Tracy’s degree was in marketing and she cut her teeth in advertising. In 1985 she joined the Harrison Price Company to conduct research. This company was formed in 1978 by Harrison (“Buzz”) Price, a renowned leisure-time economic analyst and a key person in the history of themed entertainment (above right, with Walt Disney and CV Woods). He was a close friend and colleague of Walt Disney and in fact so central to the success of the Disney theme parks that Michael Esiner (Disney CEO 1984-2005) said Price was, “as much responsible for the success of the Walt Disney Co. as anybody except Walt Disney himself”.

nick winslow

Price had worked for Walt Disney from as early as 1953, and was behind over 150 studies looking at the development of potential theme parks. He considered several sites in Southern California for Disney’s first park, opting for Anaheim due to its climate, accessibility and projected profitability. Furthermore, in the Sixties he identified Orlando as the optimum location for an East Coast Walt Disney World.

So Tracy fine-tuned her craft alongside Buzz and his colleague Nick Winslow (left), himself a recognised industry leader, having held senior positions at Warner Bros., Paramount and as president of the USA Pavilion -Shanghai 2010.

For almost 20 years she carried out the vital background research which enabled them to advise their clients around the world. She provided them with the information necessary for analysing the market potential and competitive environment for the projects they were working on – the solid data that enabled them to put together the feasibility studies.

In her career both with Harrison Price – and since 1992 with her own company Kahaner Research – she has worked with a huge variety of companies and on a vast array of different attractions. These include aquarium projects, theme parks, resort developments,letter from harrison buzz price zoos, FECs, museums and with clients such as Universal Studios, ERA, Warner Bros. Village Roadshow, Sony and of course the Harrison Price Company.

Blooloop’s News Desk

As Blooloop’s News Editor Tracy compiles the news added to Blooloop.com and also manages our LinkedIn and Twitter feeds. Her work ethic, tenacity and drive to ensure we provide an excellent service is extraordinary. (I am told she gets this from her father Bud, who was a managing partner at an accounting firm conducting royalty audits for entertainment industry clients.). On any given day a flurry of mails and messages cross the Atlantic as we discuss potential news items: is this source reliable? Is this fair comment? Is this speculation? Is this from The Daily Mail?

On occasion if I see a news item on another site and we don’t appear to have it I will drop her a line. Inevitably I get the same response. I can almost see here eyes rolling as she tells me that ,“Yes we have it. We had it three weeks ago”.

If you enjoy reading Blooloop and value our news coverage then do drop a note to Tracy some day, she is always pleased to hear from our readers. She is fastidious, ultra-reliable and a total pleasure to work with. Wearing her Kahaner Research hat she is always keen to help companies in need of research services. Setting up a new attraction, considering a country for a resort destination, want to open a museum? Give her a call.tracy kahaner

Although she is basking in the Southern Californian sun as we slog away here in the North Devon winter, she is very much a fundamental part of Blooloop’s continued development , hugely appreciated and a vital cog in the machine. So, here’s to a great 2015 and here’s to Tracy, our brilliant News Editor.

Photos: 1. Tracy in a restaurant. 2. Walt Disney, CV Wood and Buzz 3. Tracy and Buzz man an exhibition booth.  4. Nick Winslow. 5. Note sent to Tracy from Buzz.

Where can you find data about the Empire State Building’s Observation Tower?

As shown in my last Blog on Ardent Leisure Group, Investor Presentations can be a great source data. The amount of statistical data found in these presentations can be mind-boggling.

For example: Are you aware that last year a total of $1,450 per square foot was generated by the Empire State Building’s Observation Tower or that this tower attracted 4.3 million visitors? If you had read the Investors Presentation of Empire State Realty Trust you would.

To illustrate what I am talking about, I have taken the liberty of copying the following data:

Empire State Realty the worlds most famous office building
Note that Empire State Realty Trust is “focused on a modern guest experience” and that “regular upgrades and new enhancements (are) planned.”

Empire State Realty stable revenue source

Or, the “Observatory has been a Stable and Growing Source of Revenue” as shown below:

Empire State Realty stable revenue source graph

Or,

Empire State Realty repositioning

If I have convinced just a handful of you that Investor Presentations are full of great data then this Blog has served its purpose.

Thanks for reading …

’tis the Off-Season for Holiday World’s Leah Koch

eah Koch holiday world with clock

Halloween is officially over, therefore ’tis the season!

Of course, when I say, “’Tis the season, I mean for the annoying, borderline-hurtful question we at seasonal facilities get: “What do you do when the park is closed?

Then while you formulate your response, they start hypothesizing: “Do you just take a vacation for a couple months and show up right before you open again?”

For me, the sarcastic reaction in my head immediately starts on something like this: “That’s correct. There’s nothing we have to do in the off-season. We literally just sit around waiting for the season to begin again.”

But I don’t say that.holiday world and splashin safari  logo 250

First I take a deep breath, then my real answer formulates—generally something along the lines of: “Oh we have a lot to do. Before we were even done with the 2014 season, we were planning for 2015. Now it’s just time to implement any changes.” Nine times out of ten, that response goes through slightly gritted—but smiling—teeth.

Realistically, it’s time for me to start thinking about it from a different point of view. If people think we have no work to do, then we’ve done our job well.

Because making sure our guests have a wonderful time can be rather simple: just be sure they can’t see how much has to be done ahead of time to create their carefree day. (We on the inside know better, though, don’t we?)

I’ve worked in more than five departments at Holiday World (the blessing and curse of being family at a family-owned park), and I’ve watched guests’ faces light up when our Hosts and Hostesses show that they love their jobs. Overall, I think the hardest challenge of making it look easy (and answering that pesky question) was around this time last year.

We had Thunderbird coming, and I was spending days at a time researching Thanksgiving’s origins in hopes of finding a name half as good as The Voyage … to no avail. (Believe it or not, Thanksgiving as a holiday does not lend itself easily to a series of interesting ride names.) When people would ask what I was doing, I could share nothing. I’m pretty sure a lot of people thought I wasn’t doing anything. Or that I was really inefficient working on the few projects I could talk about freely.

Meanwhile, we were hard at work within our “cone of silence.” Once we had a name, we developed the overall feel of the ride and worked with PGAV on how to theme the station. We had a very contentious (for us) debate about track colors, and then train colors.

Every decision received a lot of thought and discussion—especially the train colors. We asked to see the train rendered about six different ways. And when people asked what we were doing at Holiday World, we all would sputter off something vague about planning, marketing, or training.

Vague on the outside, but dying on the inside for everyone to know how incredible Thunderbird was going to be.

It’s all becoming real now, and I’m growing more and more excited. The track is going up quickly (75 percent is up at last report) and it looks beautiful.

Leah and Lori Koch, holiday world try out the Thunderbird train

My family and a few members of the Holiday World team got to go see the train last week, and we’re very proud that we get to reveal a car next week in Orlando.

Are you planning to attend IAAPA’s Expo next week? Please drop by B&M’s booth, number 4815, on Tuesday at 4pm ET to say hello and see Thunderbird’s colorful wings. We’ll save you a seat.

Images and video kind courtesy Holiday World
1. Leah Koch standing next to Santa’s countdown clock – it counts the days and months of the year. The hands are currently at this year’s closing day, October 26.
2. Animation of the Thunderbird train.
3. Leah and her mom, Lori Koch, trying out the Thunderbird train last week in Cincinnati.

Exhibit Design and Compelling Points of Entry

space shuttle at kennedy space centre visitor complexWhen I read a really good book, the story hooks me in the first few sentences. But what got me to pick up the book and open it in the first place? Maybe it was the cover design, the review I heard on NPR, the reputation of the author, or all of the above.

Unless one of those things, or all of them in concert, compelled me to notice and invest a few precious seconds, the most brilliant writing in the history of humankind could have been lost on me. The pages of the book could have revealed the mysteries of life, the path to infinite riches, nirvana, or even how to operate Windows 8, but it wouldn’t have mattered if I didn’t take the first step.

It seems like things used to be different. You remember young Abe Lincoln—walked mileslincoln by rockwell
to borrow a book, any book, with a plain black binding. He experienced enough backbreaking labor as a child to be motivated to seek knowledge and a better life. You could call that personal relevance.

Back when I walked to school in the snow, seekers of knowledge—students, museum visitors—worshipped at the altar of keepers of knowledge—teachers, professors, curators, who projected a take-it-or-leave-it attitude. “If they aren’t willing to hang on my every word, then they deserve the dismal fate that awaits them.” But nowadays, knowledge is everywhere, on my phone, my computer, my TV. And it seems like the tables are turned. Keepers of knowledge have been forced to compete for bandwidth. It turns out the keepers actually want people to take an interest in the subject they care about, even if they are motivated by self-preservation. Whatever works, right?

So for me, and perhaps others that curate, plan, design, and otherwise contribute to exhibits, programs, and the whole the museum experience, it helps to remember that I want people to leave the museum with a bit of knowledge, a spark, a light bulb, or heaven forbid “inspired.” But they can’t leave the museum—inspired or not—unless we entice them to enter the museum, and once inside, continue to emotionally and intellectually enter the multiple treasure troves of stories about science, history, art, etc. of. It reminds me of the food court at my shopping mall, where they keep offering samples and saying “taste me.”

And that’s where compelling points of entry come in. They may be visual, interactive, shocking, shiny, mysterious, or maybe just an emotion-provoking line of text, but it somehow stirs the emotions and entices people to take the first step. From there, we have a much better chance of getting them to take the second and third steps into the mysteries of life we hope to share. And like a good book, maybe it will change the way they see the world—even motivate them to share it with a friend.

So nothing new here. Everyone already knows this stuff. I just find it helpful to remind myself of these basic principles to keep me on track developing exhibits.

Images: top Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex courtesy Kennedy Space Center. Middle, A young Abe Lincoln by Norman Rockwell.

Ardent Leisure Performance Reports for 2014

Main Event Ardent Leisure t

For you data hungry types out there, this is something for you …

If you know where to search on the web, you will be pleasantly surprised with what can be found. Since I have been providing economic and market research for several years, I know where most of the data are located.

Take for instance, the detailed statistical data that are available on Ardent Leisure Group’s website.  Two of the documents I found particularly interesting are the Main Event Investor Presentation, a May 2014 report by UBS, and Ardent Leisure Groups FY 2014 Results.

Types of data that can be found in the publically available Main Event Entertainment Presentation include Revenue and EBRITDA over the last 15 years and also Average Center Revenues Compared to Best in Class Brands.

It is that time of year again when Ardent Leisure produces its FY 2014 report, which covers each of the Groups businesses (Main Event Entertainment (fec), Health Clubs, Bowing, Theme Parks, and Marinas) separately and then compares the performance with prior years.

As in previous Blogs, I have pointed out some of the tables which particular interest to the economic consultants, developers and operators in this group.

For instance …

Ardent Leisure EBITDA 2014

Ardent Leisure Main Event EBRITDA 2014

Ardent Leisure Development Sites 2014

Ardent Leisure Theme Parks 2014

Ardent Leisure Capex 2014

Considering I supply research for consultants, developers and operators in the Leisure Time Industry, I tend to mostly be focused on a certain type of data. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, please check out Ardent Leisure Group’s website for a goldmine of information.

Five Zoo Innovations That Have Been Around for Decades: #3

PGAV heart of africa columbus zoo

Heart of Africa at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Stacey Tarpley continues her review of innovation in zoos…

I want to talk about the things that have been slowly happening, without much fanfare, across the United States in nearly every city from New York to Saint Louis to Portland. I want to talk about how things that the supposedly paradigm-changing design from Europe insists are innovative, or at least ‘rarely seen in zoos’, have actually been around for years (and in some cases, decades) here in the United States.

Zoo Innovation #3: The Quintessential Wild: Herds of Animals Freely Roaming Acres of Land 

Herds of wildebeest and antelope, zebra and impala, the occasional giraffe and a few rhino wandering without a care in the world across fields of tall grasses waving in the breeze as a pride of lions looks on from their perches high above the savanna: this is the quintessential vision of ‘wild’ in most peoples’ heads. C’mon. You know what I’m talking about. In this innovation, we’re talking about recreating this ‘wild’ in captivity, and what it comes down to is multiple species of animals in large social groups moving through and around vast open spaces.

This image has actually been replicated again and again in a captive setting by zoos of all sizes and shapes. And really it is a very complicated innovation to achieve, since most of these characters have very specialized needs, physically and socially. Rhinos, for example, do not play well with most other animals. Lions, of course, can never be housed with antelope. Giraffes are a mixed bag: sometimes easy-going and carefree, other times wildly skittish and frightened of their own very long shadows. However, over many years, keepers have developed an understanding of which species can actually be housed together and today its commonplace–to the point of it being expected–to see mixed-species exhibits throughout the zoo, not just in the Africa section (although Africa seems to be the most likely to have the large, wide open spaces).

Beyond mixing species, other innovations have made these spacious and natural-seeming exhibits possible. One method, rotation, links exhibit yards by a common back of house building to allow species to be rotated through yards throughout the day. For example, the lions may be in Yard A in the morning, while hyenas may be in that yard in the afternoon. Hiding barriers and layering views is another innovation that makes wonderfully complex exhibits occur.

This innovation is actually one of the oldest tricks in the books, developed in Germany at the turn of the 20th century. It involves hiding barriers in deep empty ravines called moats.

Hagenbeck Tierpark Nordland

And finally, creating the savanna itself is somewhat of an innovation all on its own. Finding the perfect soil mixture and grass composition to withstand the pressure of herds of hoofstock day in and day out has taken decades to perfect, and some might say, is still being perfected. In fact, this horticultural challenge is one faced not only with hoofstock animals, but in nearly any animal exhibit where the animal is terrestrial, spending the majority of its time on the ground.

Creating the true feeling of ‘wild’ in captivity is very difficult, and although it has been achieved to varied success repeatedly across the U.S., it is no less a feat. Especially when created with few visible barriers.

NIRAH runs out of time. What lessons should be learned?

NIRAH Aquarium

We read on the Blooloop website recently that the planning permission for NIRAH, the massive fresh water aquarium attraction planned for Bedfordshire, has expired with several million pounds of public money having been invested in it.

NIRAH (National Institute for Research into Aquatic Habitats) was given the go-ahead to build the aquarium in Stewartby, Bedfordshire, north of London in 2007 with a supposed completion date in 2012. The project, which was originally set to have a budget of £375 million and was planned to be FOUR TIMES the size of the Eden Project in Cornwall, never got off the ground and the old brickworks site where it was to be built remains empty. Prior to relocating the planned project to Bedfordshire, NIRAH had previously caused much excitement in North Somerset back in 2002 when they announced the project would be built at the old RAF Locking site.

Bedford Borough and Central Beds councils are owed at least £1.6m, while central government is owed more than £3.5m. Back in 2012, a report from the BBC described the project, which by then had a price tag of £600 million, as ‘dead in the water’ and noted that land ownership issues, which ended up in the High Court, were never resolved. Indeed, even back in 2009, Council bosses admitted that they felt ‘left in the dark’ and were “deeply concerned” about plans. Perhaps they should have stepped in then or were they all in too deep?

Out of £3 million of public money identified in 2012, £400,000 was paid to Directors, £1.2 million in professional fees and consultants fees (including £100,000 in PR), and £1.1 million in costs relating to planning applications. That left a balance of £300,000, not to mention that small question of the fact that we now know that including accumulated interest, £3.5 million is owed to government, plus the sum of £1.6 million owed to the local councils.

The local MP, Nadine Dorries has called for an ‘explanation of the matter’, which I would have thought is the very least that could be expected. Maybe there should be an enquiry into the use of public funds. How on earth did these local and national government authorities ever think that this was a viable project? What kind of feasibility studies convinced them that it was viable and who was responsible? How did the project consume so much money over the years with nothing to show for it? Were no lessons learnt following the failure of Millennium projects such as the Centre for Popular Music in Sheffield and the Earth Centre in Doncaster?

Whilst often it seems that deserving, sustainable and well-supported smaller projects fail to gain the support that they need, the larger and more eye catching projects which promise so much gain support from local and national government , almost irrespective of the economic case, the strength and suitability of the concept or the experience and credibility of the promoters.

Keith Thomas, Chief Executive
Petersham Group Ltd.