Attendance down at Cape pool but up at Jackson pool during first season of aquatic center

Thursday, September 16, 2010
John Kiefner practices with the Cape Gators swim team Wednesday, the last day of the swimming season at Capaha Municipal Pool. Attendance at the pool dropped this summer by about 5,000 compared to last year. (Fred Lynch)

While the Cape Splash Family Aquatic Center saw more than 106,000 guests during its first season, the center's effect other pools in Cape Girardeau and Jackson hasn't been uniform.

Patrick Watson, aquatic supervisor for Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation, said he saw a decrease in guests at Capaha Municipal Pool this season.

"Definitely our total numbers were down. Cape Splash is newer and people were excited about it. I saw a lot of Capaha patrons at Cape Splash this summer," Watson said. He said the variety of activities offered at the water park attracted not only local guests but those from out of town. He said it was not uncommon to see license plates from Kentucky, Illinois, Tennessee and Arkansas in the Cape Splash parking lot.

According to data provided by the city, Capaha Municipal Pool saw 12,668 patrons in 2009. The number fell to 7,147 in 2010. The pool had no patrons at all July 12. Watson said the lack of customers that day could probably be attributed to the weather. The Cape Girardeau Regional Airport reported the high temperature that day was 86 degrees.

Cape Splash saw its lowest attendance day Sept. 3 with 27 guests. That occurred a few weeks after the start of school.

Jackson Parks and Recreation director Shane West Anderson said the Jackson City Swimming Pool actually saw larger crowds than it did last year. West said 16,500 people visited the Jackson pool this summer. While he did not know the 2009 attendance total, he said this season's numbers were considerably higher.

West said he feels in the current economic climate people are opting to forgo extended vacations and are staying closer to home for recreation. He said the Jackson pool was a good value with low admission prices. Patrons at the Jackson pool are also allowed to bring in outside food and drink, as long as it is consumed in the picnic area.

Jackson pool manager Carole Baugh said she believes the closing of Cape Girardeau's Central Municipal Pool and the region's hot, dry summer attributed to the high attendance rates.

Cape Girardeau voters approved a sales tax in April 2008 to help fund the city's parks program, including Cape Splash, and many in the community have questioned how the facility has performed financially during its inaugural season. Dan Muser, director of Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation, said the city is still putting together the numbers for operational costs and that he hopes to have a complete financial statement finalized by early October.

cbartholomew@semissourian.com

243-8600

Pertinent Addresses:

1565 N. Kingshighway, Cape Girardeau, MO

Capaha Park, Cape Girardeau, MO

205 Caruthers Ave., Cape Girardeau, MO

Jackson City Park, Jackson, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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