By Jim Hulen, North Myrtle Beach Online.com
June 25, 2012 North Myrtle Beach, SC – Tom Jones, President and CEO of Global Attractions Development and Management (GADM) at Monday’s workshop outlined the proposal for a water park to be located within the North Myrtle Beach Sports Complex and operational by Outdoor Lazy Riverthe summer of 2014.
Jones explained the attraction, tentatively branded as The Islands Water Park, will attract 190,000 first year visitors and generate over $6.2 million in revenue to the developers. The city under the proposed agreement will receive 5% of that amount (around $300,000) annually to lease them 5 to 7 acres.
City Manager Mike Mahaney said, “The lease will help contribute to adding additional features to the Sports Complex.”
The Islands Water Park will spend $26 million to build the park which will initially include ten attractions – a wave pool, lazy river, kids pool, kid’s slides, spray pad, inner tube slide, funnel slide, bowl slide, family funnel slide and interactive play structures. The developers intend to add new attractions every two years.
Jones justified the attendence numbers by pointing out that the water park will be visible from Highway 31 that carries 21,400 vehicles a day and at a site that is a 60 minute drive for almost 200,000 people. He also expects to be able to compete with the existing water parks and attract at least 1% of the 14 million annual tourists.
Supporting Jones’ analysis was city-hired consultant, Tim Ruedy with Attraction Consulting International. Ruedy pointed out that the new park will have attractions the current Myrtle Beach water parks will never have due to their landlocked footprints.
Ruedy concluded, “As the first modern water park to be built in the last 20 years on the Grand Strand the project is certain to attract the attention and visitation of the market. The excitement and draw of the water park as well as the Sports Complex will provide North Myrtle Beach with a fresh, more youthful appeal; an attribute vital to helping grow the city in a diversified manner for the future.”
Mayor Marilyn Hatley concluded the meeting by saying, “This is the right step, right direction in growing North Myrtle Beach. One more attraction that will benefit the entire community.”
In the next executive session, Council will review the draft lease.
Pat Dowling, city spokesman, said,"Important to stress that these are concepts taken from other popular parks that could be worked into the proposed local park…not actual commitments at this time. But to be competitive in the market, the proposed park would have to meet or beat these types of attractions.
Also, while Council did give general approval to the proposed park and the private team assembled to fund and operate it, the next step – arriving at a land lease agreement that absolutely protects the City from financial and other liability— will be challenging. The developers of the project will also have to secure from their lender(s) written approval for the City to take over operation of the water park, should the private group fail in their operations effort."