After a drought of water parks -Water, water, everywhere!
Water park competition heats up between Fort Lauderdale Stadium to the north and Dolphins Stadium on the Broward and Miami-Dade county line.
Read the rest of the post at:Fort Lauderdale’s proposal to turn its sports stadiums into a major water park resort could clear a major hurdle this week.The Broward County Planning Council is set to consider whether to sign off on the project and send it to the state for review.City commissioners are negotiating a deal with Schlitterbahn Development Group for the use of the Lockhart and Fort Lauderdale stadium property for the park.
I still plan on making that trip to downtown Miami on Friday and after snapping some photos of some places and people I've been aiming to mention and show here on the blog for a while -inc. some of the American Airlines Arena for some readers overseas- at some point, I'll swing over and snag some photos or artists depictions of the water park from the formal application.
A new water park with wave pools, slides and a snorkel area is planned just across the street from the current playground of the Marlins and Dolphins.Miami Dolphins owner and real-estate developer Steve Ross intends to turn a 40-acre parking lot next to Sun Life Stadium into a water attraction pegged to a spring 2012 opening -- just as the Florida Marlins will move from Sun Life to the new baseball stadium in Little Havana, said Dolphins CEO Mike Dee."We're looking at any and all ways that we can utilize the stadium and bring economic value. It's both an opportunity and a challenge,'' Dee said.The water park -- which would include private cabanas and a "swim with the fish'' pool -- would be South Florida's first new major attraction since Jungle Island opened in 2003 on Watson Island. And it will be the region's first water park since Atlantis the Water Kingdom closed almost two decades ago. The water park would occupy 20 acres, with another 20 acres of parking.The Miami Gardens land designated for the park is owned by Ross, former team owner H. Wayne Huizenga and other team partners. The project, still unnamed, will cost "tens of millions'' and will be privately financed, Dee said.It will require a zoning change from office use to an "unusual'' designation that must be approved by the Miami-Dade County Commission. The project is meant to offset revenue losses in the summer months that would have normally been busy with baseball. It is the first stage of a new stadium master plan, Dee said. Talks on other plans to improve the stadium are ongoing, he said, though he wouldn't give details.It is expected to create approximately 600 construction jobs and an additional 400 jobs from the water-park operation and increase tourism stays in the area, according to a company release.The new park would be a unique attraction in South Florida. While the World Waterpark Association says an estimated 1,000 water parks operate in North America, none have existed in this area since Hollywood's Atlantis closed in 1992. The closest comparable park, Rapids Water Park in Palm Beach County, is slightly larger than the planned new project.Earlier this year, team officials floated the idea of a hotel tax increase to fund nearly $200 million in stadium upgrades, saying the improvements were necessary to keep the Super Bowl coming back. The campaign was put on hold.But the addition could also boost the region's chances of hosting the Super Bowl again, said William Talbert III, CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau."Certainly we would use any asset, any enhancement to the facility, as part of our bid,'' Talbert said.Dee called the planned park a "best-in-class, state-of-the-art facility'' that should appeal to tourists: "We're going to market it aggressively.''So will the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, Talbert said. ``It would have an appeal to the family vacationer as something new and exciting.''Company estimates forecast nearly 700,000 visitors during the first year and and additional $7 million in local, state and federal taxes.Dreams of grand attractions are not new in South Florida. Huizenga himself had planned in the 1990s to build Blockbuster Park, a baseball stadium, movie studios and entertainment complex. The designated site was in Miramar west of Interstate 75. The plan fell apart when Blockbuster was taken over by Viacom in a merger.While water parks are not primary draws like Disney or Universal theme parks, they still play a role in tourism, said Abraham Pizam, dean of the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida in Orlando."It would be an addition to the attractions that are already there,'' he said. ``If people are already there, they can extend their stay for another half a day or day, which is great because everybody wins.''Water parks have survived despite the recession, with more coming online during the past 5-10 years. More of that business has been indoors or at resorts or municipalities rather than outdoors, said Aleatha Ezra, the association's director of park membership development.Florida -- specifically, Orlando -- has four of the world's top seven parks in terms of visitors, with a combined total of more than 6.7 million visitors in 2009, according to an attraction attendance report from AECOM and Themed Entertainment Association."They are still good drivers of tourism and, similar to regional theme parks, they have tended to do a little bit better than larger, more extensive destination-oriented ones,'' said Edward Shaw, senior associate with the economics arm of consulting firm AECOM. "The tickets tend to be a little more reasonable for the markets and they're good for staycations and the resident-oriented market.''The proposed water park will have some features similar to Aquatica, SeaWorld's water park in Orlando, which opened in 2008.The Neuman Group, the aquatic destination planning and construction firm shoring up the local project, is involved with both. Theme-park operator Palace Entertainment -- which runs Boomers arcades and Sea Life Park in Hawaii, among others -- is also working with the Dolphin venture.The downturn in the economy could actually be a boost to a new project like the one Ross plans, some experts say."It's much cheaper to build anything nowadays than it was two or three years ago,'' said UCF's Pizam. ``People are out of jobs, companies are looking for projects. The cost has been going down, almost spiraling down.''
Read them again:
But the addition could also boost the region's chances of hosting the Super Bowl again, said William Talbert III, CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau."Certainly we would use any asset, any enhancement to the facility, as part of our bid,'' Talbert said.