Spokane County’s new aquatics center was open only 13 days this summer, but if attendance is any indicator, it made a big splash.
The $2.4 million North Side Aquatic Center is at 18120 N. Hatch Road, at the new Bidwell Park.
More than 4,000 patrons visited the center during the sneak preview Aug. 19-31, and that’s counting one rainy day when only one person showed up.
“The preview went fantastic. I feel extremely pleased, just absolutely thrilled,” said County Parks Director Doug Chase.
Chase said that officials had anticipated the center making about $6,500 during the preview, but they exceeded their estimate with actual revenues of more than $17,000.
“We hoped to recover about 46 percent of our operating cost for that short 13-day period, but we blew that out of the water. We recovered 81 percent. Our costs were a little bit higher, but that was directly due to attendance that was more than double what we had hoped for,” said Chase.
Chase said the County Parks Department’s goal isn’t to recoup original construction costs, but to try to recoup as much of the operating costs as it can, balancing that with keeping it affordable for the community to enjoy.
This year, general admission was $4 for age 6 and up and $2 for children 5 and under. Chase expects those fees to stay the same next season.
“When you look at alternative forms of entertainment, that $2 and $4 becomes a pretty good deal, and this lasts longer than a movie. They can enjoy themselves all day,” said Chase.
The preview allowed the ParksDepartment to see what improvements could be made for next year. It is already ordering additional tables and chairs, chaise lounges and permanent 20-foot shade structures.
Next year the department plans to offer a broader range of concessions, which will allow for birthday and party packages.
The facility, which features a large pool and various play areas, will open next season on weekends, before schools are out for the summer.
The county is working on a similar aquatics center for the south side, possibly at 61st and Freya. Under ideal circumstances, the center would be open in two to three years, said Chase.
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