May 2024 - Parks & Recreation - 45

Designing Modern
Aquatics Centers
How special features enhance aquatics spaces and increase revenue
By Michelle Gable, AFO, CPO
P
ools and aquatics centers are continuing to move away from the rectangular,
six- or eight-lane design and function of the past. This transition
is happening even faster than anticipated by industry experts,
as park and recreation agencies operating pools find themselves needing
to generate more revenue to continue recovering from the financial hardships
brought on by the recent pandemic, combined with rising staff costs and
changed expectations with regard to subsidizing aquatics. Many also took a
hard look at their aquatics facilities during the downtime the pandemic provided
and came to the realization that their tired aquatics facilities needed significant
renovation or even replacement. To revamp an existing aquatics facility
or in planning for a new aquatics facility, park and recreation professionals are
turning to the variety of popular special features that can multiply the number
and variety of users, revenue and fun at pools.
Special Features
Special features, like vortexes, lazy
rivers, water slides, obstacle courses,
inflatables, interactive water features,
surfable waves, climbing walls
and play structures, generate interest
because they bring elements of experience,
challenge, thrill and fun for
individuals, families and even teenagers.
These features can provide
variety so tremendously different
than the staple of recreational and
lap swim that they can even attract
entirely different groups of people to
the facility. Experience shows that
people will seek out an aquatics facility
for an intriguing special feature
and/or the programming that special
features provide. Often, they even are
willing to travel quite a distance for a
special feature and related program.
Consequently, they are willing to
pay an extra fee or fees on top of the
entrance fee for such an experience.
This additional revenue can help
sustain the operation of competitive
pools, which can be subsidized by
these revenue-generating amenities.
Chad Gunter, recreation supervisor
for City of Folsom, California,
shares insight into the success story
of the Steve Miklos Aquatic Center's
implementation of continuous
airflow ALFEX inflatables during
the 2009 recession. The inflatables
offer a captivating " wow " factor,
enhancing the facility's appeal to
passersby and those approaching the
main entrance. While originally catering
to the entire community, the
inflatables notably attract a younger
teenage demographic,
diversifying
the
facility's offerings and retaining
interest from a group that might
otherwise age out of having interest
in the facility. The inflatables also
serve
as
spectator-friendly
attractions,
allowing friends and family to
cheer on participants as they navigate
the courses. Presently, visitors
are charged an extra $3 per day for
an inflatable wristband, and each
year the center welcomes new and
enthusiastic patrons eager to tackle
the latest inflatable challenges. This
has proven instrumental in boosting
attendance and revenue. During the
past 15 years, these inflatables have
generated an impressive $600,000 in
additional revenue.
Another example can be found at
the Rogue Credit Union Community
Complex (Rogue X) in Medford,
Oregon. Rich Rosenthal, parks, recreation
and facilities director for City
of Medford, says, " Our department's
mandate was to replace an aging seasonal
pool where [the City of Medford's]
swim lessons were conducted,
but it didn't make sense to replace a
Cold War-era outdoor rectangular
pool with another simplistic rectangular
design, only with a roof over it.
The modern design provides ample
PARK S ANDRECRE AT ION . OR G | MAY 2 0 2 4 | Parks & Recreation
45

May 2024 - Parks & Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of May 2024 - Parks & Recreation

May 2024 - Parks & Recreation - Intro
May 2024 - Parks & Recreation - Cover1
May 2024 - Parks & Recreation - Cover2
May 2024 - Parks & Recreation - 1
May 2024 - Parks & Recreation - 2
May 2024 - Parks & Recreation - 3
May 2024 - Parks & Recreation - 4
May 2024 - Parks & Recreation - 5
May 2024 - Parks & Recreation - 6
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May 2024 - Parks & Recreation - 21
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May 2024 - Parks & Recreation - Cover3
May 2024 - Parks & Recreation - Cover4
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https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/january-2022
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https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/september-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/august-2021
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