Space Cynics reponds to my previous response with a new post: Ports and Theme Parks are incompatible.
On one hand, I agree that theme parks are very different than an actual functioning "port" such as O'Hare Airport or the NY Port Authority. But on the other hand, I am tempted to offer NY's South Street Seaport as an example of a seaport that is actually a living museum, shopping mall & tourist trap. I do assert that the "spaceports" being planned by the State of New Mexico and the city-state of Singapore have always been understood by the proponents as being much more like a theme park than an actual functioning "port" such as O'Hare Airport or the NY Port Authority.
I remain surprised that the Space Cynics (a supposed cynical operation) ever doubted this fact.
I also remain skeptical that suborbital space tourism can ever transition into a genuine transportation system except as a permanent subset of the entertainment industry. If suborbital space tourism is all about entertainment, we need to embrace that reality and then run with it. Dr. Peter Diamandis and Sir Richard Branson appear to be doing exactly that.
My original post was a response to the Space Cynics' assertion that suborbital passenger ticket revenue would likely be insufficient to support one, let alone four spaceports. My response expressed my intuitive surprise that anyone would even attempt to fund a "spaceport" with suborbital passengers as the primary funding source, except perhaps as a headline grabbing attention getter.
A modest amount of on-line research confirms that the government in New Mexico never intended to rely upon passenger revenue as the primary justification for taxpayer financed spaceport funding but rather foresees (hopes for?) creating a quasi-permanent Oshkosh air show for space. Note that New Mexico State University has prepared a business plan for this scheme and Page 5 of that pdf report includes something called the "Commercial Space Pyramid" which contains five levels:
(1) Space passengers;
(4) Terrestrial tourism;
(5) Ancillary industries.
Each layer of the pyramid was larger than one above it. The report expressly calls for space themed experiences to be offered for people not flying as passengers to encourage increased terrestrial tourism within New Mexico. The lion's share of jobs and revenue are predicted to come from further down on this pyramid.
Since the Rocket Racing League (tm) and the X Prize Cup are both signature events for New Mexico's space tourism plans, I simply do not see how anyone can deny that theme parks and airshow events are a vital part of the business case being made for New Mexico's spaceport. As for Richard Branson, today's news that he and his son will make cameo appearances in the new James Bond movie reminds me that Virgin Galactic already has grabbed a cameo in the Superman movie as an example of brandsploitation.
Will any of this lead us to the promised land of humanity becoming spacefaring? I dunno. Maybe, maybe not. But I don't see how theme park spaceports can hurt provided we do not expect too much from them.