The Pavilions At Talking Stick

Salt River Reservation to get entertainment complex

An entertainment complex that could include an aquarium, IMAX theater, Ripley's Believe it or Not and other attractions is planned for the Salt River Reservation east of Scottsdale.

The private development team behind the Odysea in the Desert project signed a lease last month for a 37.5-acre site northeast of Loop 101 and Via de Ventura for a project of more than 500,000 square feet, said Amram Knishinsky, one of the principals.

It is too early to pin down what attractions will be included but the Odysea group could unveil its full plan within three or months, he said.

"It will be a mecca for locals and tourists," Knishinsky said.

Odysea's attractions would add to a growing entertainment district on the reservation along Loop 101 freeway that includes golf, gambling, a luxury cinema and baseball. It would be within a mile of both the Talking Stick Resort and Salt River Fields, the spring-training baseball complex for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies that opens next month. Odysea would compete with the Sea Life Aquarium that opened in May at Arizona Mills in Tempe and another aquarium at the Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium in Litchfield Park.

A website for Odysea, which Knishinsky said needed to be revised, listed its attractions as an aquarium, IMAX large-screen movie theater and Ripley's, a museum of oddities.

Other attractions could include a multimedia show about Arizona, a butterfly pavilion and MagiQuest, a live-action game that immerses participants in a fantasy world that might appeal to Harry Potter fans.

Rachel Sacco, Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau president, had not seen Odysea's plans but said it could add some needed family-friendly attractions to the East Valley.

The entertainment complex, including stores and restaurants, would operate on land leased for 65 years from a group of Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community members who are allotted land from the tribe but do not own the parcels.

The tribal government is not involved or investing in Odysea, tribal spokesman Levi Long said.

Odysea's development team, led by Knishinsky, includes Rubin Stahl and Martin Pollack, a trio who developed the $125 million Scottsdale Galleria, a failed indoor shopping plaza in downtown Scottsdale 20 years ago. The Galleria was converted to an office complex. The group previously developed the Newport Aquarium in Kentucky.

 
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