City Manager Joshua Ray and the projects department want to make tiger sculptures a focal point of the community.
Cincinnati has its pigs, New Orleans its dogs and Eugene, Ore., its ducks. Aztec wants to be known for its tigers.
Still in its infancy, the Tiger Art Project, which came about during talks this fall between Ray's office and projects manager Edward Kotyk, aims to replicate the school district's feline mascot as a booster for schools. Boosters envision a memorable sight for tourists and a potential revenue source for scholarships and assorted projects.
"We wanted to come up with a statue or artwork to honor our schools," Kotyk said. "We looked at the University of Memphis, whose graduating classes do a project with tiger sculptures each year to boost team spirit and raise funds, and it clicked that it could work here for Aztec."
Kotyk and Ray will take the first step Tuesday by asking the city commission to consider funding tiger sculptures.
This project also was inspired by the two bronze tigers that stand in the median in front of school district offices, Kotyk said. Their installation was part of a median improvement project two years ago, he said.
If approved, the proposed fiberglass sculptures, approximately seven feet in length and a yard in height, would be ordered from a Wisconsin company called Fiberglass Animals, Shapes and Trademarks. Kotyk said the company, which supplied the University of Memphis with its statues, was the most affordable source of tigers.
Bulk discount or not, the life-sized animal sculptures come at a price. Tuesday's workshop will determine whether the commission wants to use part of the city's budget to pay for public art.
A first draft of the project lays the cost of purchasing, shipping, and installing the tigers at the city's feet. The initial cost of purchasing 10 tigers from an existing mold would be $1,850 each, plus a shipping cost of roughly $2,000 per trailer load of 10 to 15, Kotyk said.
Last year, the city's annual budget was about $27 million, making the project possible but still a question of priorities.
"We have arterial highway and sewer projects that run in the millions," Kotyk said. "This doesn't touch those, but it can be a spark that gives the city a beautifying look, celebrates the accomplishments of our schools and enhances local character at the same time."
To help cover some of the costs and generate revenue to fund scholarships and fund assorted trail projects, the city would offer various levels of sponsorship for the public art.
"We discussed public art during the last median improvement project," Ray said. "The response we had from the schools was tremendous, so we're hoping to get greater buy-ins from businesses and individuals who want to celebrate our city in an eye-grabbing way."
The special workshop meeting is scheduled for 5:15 to 6 p.m., Tuesday at City Hall, 201 W. Chaco.