Saturday, February 28, 2004 - 02:00

Editorial - Given the Ripley track record in Niagara Falls, we're choosing to believe it rather than not when it comes to a plan for a $200-million aquarium/resort that will officially be unveiled at a media conference next week.

While Niagara Falls has seen grandiose plans come and go over the years, this is one that comes from a proven company that already has a long association with, and proven track record in, Niagara Falls. The Ripley's Believe it or Not! museum has been a mainstay on Clifton Hill for a long time. The newer Moving Theatre, also a Ripley attraction, just across the street is also a popular attraction.

Ripley has expressed interest in a significant aquarium project in the city for several years. Bob Masterson, president of Ripley Entertainment Inc. confirmed what the company has been saying for some time when he talked to The Review this week.

As he said, much has been invested in the city recently for the casino, aimed largely at adult travellers. The huge casino/gateway project - pegged as a billion-dollar venture - will open this spring.

The Ripley aquarium project, which also includes the Great Wolf Lodge family resort previously announced for the 25-acres of land at Victoria Avenue and the Niagara Parkway has families in mind.

As far as tourism goes, it's exactly what the city needs to keep it a destination that has something for everybody.

Masterson also knows the market, recognizing it was hard-hit by last year's slowdown in tourism.

The fact the company operates similar attractions in Tennessee and South Carolina is also reason for optimism.

When a well-established company is willing to spend this kind of money in Niagara Falls, it only bodes well for the future.

Believe it.

ID- 59629