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Clearwater Voters Approve New Aquarium Deal

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Winter the Dolphin may soon have a new home. Clearwater voters decided to lease the property where City Hall currently stands to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, which plans to build a new waterfront aquarium.

The Tampa Bay Times reports the unofficial vote of 55 percent to 45 percent allows the city to change its charter and begin raising $160.5 million for the new building.

"We won by a touchdown and a field goal," said former Mayor Frank Hibbard. He said that voters understood that a yes vote was "giving us a chance" to raise the money for the project. "Now the heavy lifting starts," said Hibbard, who led the aquarium effort.

City Hall would be torn down and replaced with a three-story aquarium, featuring a stadium for Winter the Dolphin, the prosthetic tailed star of the movie Dolphin Tale.

However, if the $160.5 million isn't raised by August 1, 2016, the deal between the city and the aquarium will be canceled.

Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.
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