I am not an advocate of the new sales tax funded water park that is scheduled to open on Memorial Day in Cape Girardeau. I will likely never use it. However, it's being built whether I like it or not so I might as well accept the inevitable.
Beside it being inevitable that the Cape Splash Family Aquatics Center is coming, I think it is also inevitable that the operation will lose money on an annualized basis. That's probably why there aren't a lot of privately operated water parks in the Midwest. There's no good business model for our climate and state mandated liability insurance is astronomically expensive.
Call me a cynic, but I just don't see how our water park can cover it's expenses operating three months out of the year AND charging only $5 for children 13 and under and $6 for adults. People who buy season passes will pay significantly less on an average day-rate.
The only thing that might save this enterprise from bleeding red is the fact that no outside coolers or food will be allowed in. Users will have to buy their refreshments at the park and pay whatever the going rate happens to be although there is a loophole. The city might want to consider banning picnicking and tailgating in the Osage Center parking lot.
As you probably have already ascertained, the admission fee chart for the water park has already been posted on the City's website. I guess we're trying to make a big splash by undercutting our municipal aquatic competition in Farmington. Our water park's 2010 daily admission prices are fifty cents to a dollar cheaper than their prices from last year. Farmington has not yet posted their 2010 admission prices. I just hope we don't get into some kind of price war with them.
Of course, if we do, the likely battleground will be Patton Junction. That community is 37.3 miles from the Farmington water-park and 36.6 miles from ours. The fifty cents to a dollar difference per head might be what it takes to lure the lucrative PJs to our water park.
I do find it a little annoying that the voters of Cape Girardeau who passed the half-cent sales tax are not getting any price break at Cape Splash. The tax affects residents more than anyone else, yet we will pay the same to go to the water park as a visitor from Jackson, Chaffee or Patton Junction.
That seems wrong. Shouldn't the people who are paying the lion's share of the construction get at least a little discount for using the facility?
I guess the city feels that local water-sport enthusiasts will buy a season pass that are heavily discounted. A family of four can get daily access to the facilities for $200 or 55 cents a day per person based on a 90-day season. That seems pretty cheap -- almost too cheap -- which gets back to my cynicism that the water park will lose money.
I think it's a given that it will happen -- even with the monopoly on refreshments -- but it's not too late to stop the red ink from flowing at the Cape Splash Family Aquatic Center.
For instance, why have we given this facility a generic name like Cape Splash Family Aquatics Center when we could be selling naming rights? There are plenty businesses with deep pockets who I'm sure would just love to have their brand associated with good clean wholesome family fun.
For instance, there is always Pepsi or Coke, although a naysayer might point out that many of their products promote tooth decay and encourage childhood obesity.
I personally think that Bluff City Beer Family Aquatics Center is rather catchy although those who would be anti-soft drink sponsorship would really freak out if we did that. There is nothing wrong with beer, I would counter.
In fact, beer has played a storied and vital part in history dating back as early as 9000 BC. It's even been called "liquid bread" because it can be high in nutritional value. Since, no one would object if Bunny Bread bought the naming rights to our aquatic center, why should Bluff City Beer be treated any differently?
However, I know that is a losing argument. No one in any position of power in this town would even consider selling the naming rights to our "family aquatics center" to a beer distributor.
So how about one of our local hospitals? The medical industry in Cape is thriving and I imagine that if we auctioned off the naming rights that a fierce bidding war would ensue between the two hospitals.
I think a water park would be a good fit for either of them. There are probably dozens of promotional opportunities they could pursue by having their brand associated with the water park.
For example, St. Francis Medical Center is teaming up with the American Cancer Society to bring a 20-foot-long, 8-foot-high walk-through colon to Cape this coming Friday. It's an "interactive, educational exhibit" meant to increase awareness about colorectal cancer. But it's only going to be here for one day.
But at the St. Francis Medical Center Family Aquatics Center, the tube slide could be customized into a colorectal cancer exhibit that could be appreciated by water sport enthusiasts hundreds of time a day, all summer long.
Not only would visitors be thrilled jetting out the Colon Splash Spectacular into the Lower Intestine Lazy River, they might learn a thing or two about colorectal cancer in the process.
And that kind of edu-tainment might make all the difference to our customers from Patton Junction.