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Politics / Issues

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.