Construction could begin on a zipline project at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo as early as February, according to documents obtained by Scene.
The Zoo is hopeful that, pending the selection of a construction manager and adherence to an aggressive construction timeline, the "Soaring Eagle" Zipline experience will open on Zoo grounds by Memorial Day.
Soaring Eagle, the zipline proprietor, was exempt from the Zoo's traditional competitive bidding process because it was regarded as the "vendor of choice" for some time and because its product has been described as "unique and proprietary." The Zoo has been eyeing a potential zipline attraction for several years, according to purchasing documents. The Metroparks will pay $600,000-$700,000 for dual 680-foot ziplines and related equipment.
As it turns out, the elements that make the Soaring Eagle product unique as a zipline experience make it much more reminiscent of a ski lift experience.
Like ski lifts, the Soaring Eagle Zipline will originate and return to the same location. (The site map is visible above). These dual ziplines will be installed "such that the loading/unloading platform borders Waterfowl Lake in the Zoo between Stillwater Place and Wade Hall," according to the project description. The there-and-back ride will "provide users unobstructed views of the Downtown Cleveland skyline and the Zoo below."
This layout will allow groups to stay together when family members ride the zipline and then return to their point of origin. The zipline is also envisioned as an all-seasons attraction and will be able to accommodate two seated riders at once, unlike more traditional zip lines in which participants must wear a harness. Young children will be permitted to ride alongside adults.
"As such," the Metroparks Request for Qualifications for a construction manager states, "the zipline provides a revenue opportunity that fits with the Zoo’s core demographic and provides the opportunity to expand the demographic to a more adventure-seeking audience."
The working budget for the construction manager, as outlined in its RFQ, is between $700,000-$800,000.
The ticket price for the attraction is not yet known, but the zip line is framed as a revenue generating entertainment option which, like the Circle of Wildlife Carousel, the Ben Gogolick Giraffe Encounter and the 4D Theater, has been designed to defray rising operating costs at the zoo and across the parks district. A PowerPoint presentation, with photos and conceptual renderings of the Zoo's zipline experience, was presented to the Metroparks Board of Trustees in November.
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