Blue blazes, it’s nice when your government officials get it. When, as state and national politics seem all too often motivated by greed, at the local level something can be done because it’s the right thing to do.
Last night, King’s Pointe GM Nick Edwards (welcome back Nick) approached the Storm Lake City Council about an Outdoor Waterpark Season Pass Special.
Last year, the city tried a Black Friday one-day sale on waterpark passes. Problem. Not everyone is in town on Thanksgiving week, nor is in the mood to hang out in a line at the front desk of the resort in a busy time that should perhaps be spent home with family.
So, management at the City-owned Pointe decided to ask the council to extende the bargain, and drop the price a bit from last year.
That’s cool. And here’s why.
Although King’s Pointe was designed largely to draw tourism, it also serves as a City Pool, the only one available to families in town.
Those pre-sale season tickets are bought mainly by the locals. And what we don’t want is to have a fancy waterpark that residents of the community that built it can’t afford to use!
The council approved, and so this year season passes can be bought November 28 through December 31 for $199 for a family of up to five (add on’s are $40). And this year, you’ll be able to buy them at the resort desk, over the phone, and online - way more convenient.
Hellooo, Christmas present.
How many times do we lament that kids don’t play outside any more, and spend all their time with their cell phone, tablet computer or gaming system - and then we go buy them more of that techno-trash for the holiday. Here’s a gift they can use for months, to have healthy outdoor fun. It won’t break or get dropped in the toilet, and just think of all the hugs you can harvest from those grandkids.
But, and here’s where I get proud of our local government - the council wants to take this a step further.
Bruce Engelmann said that he finds the local prices a little higher than swimming facilities at surrounding cities.
(Though, let’s face it, our park kicks the snot out of theirs.)
The name of the ball game, Bruce notes, is making the park accessible to more people.
Tyson Rice suggested that even the new lower price might be a strain for some families to come up with, and questioned whether it could be split up into a monthly payment, perhaps even something families could choose to have added automatically to their water bills so the blow could be less than $20 a month. “Is that silly?” he asked. Yeah, it’s silly we haven’t tried it before now.
Who knows if this could work - the City farms out its billing services, and a good number of families who buy season passes live outside City limits and don’t get a Storm Lake water bill.
The important thing is thinking and kicking around some ideas - good things tend to happen when you do that.
Tyson also suggests that the City get creative and perhaps encourage major employers to offer a bit of a match to enourage their workers’ families to be able to use the waterpark. Why not?
Kinseth, the company that manages the resort and water park for the City, will be consulted, pencils will be pushed, and the council hopes to discuss options further at its next meeting later this month.
We hope they are successful. Making that waterpark more accessible for more kids and families would be fine achievement.
Last year about 30 season passes were sold for the Black Friday promotion at $225. We can blow that out of the water, folks.
And we need to. King’s Pointe operates with our tax dollars. Everyone in Storm Lake owns a little piece of that bad boy. And the better it does, the better we do. A happening place attracts more tourism, and tourism pays off for business all over Storm Lake, as well as boosts our image across the state and beyond.
And while our motivation is and should be helping out the kids, we are not fools, either. This is Economics 101.
We know season pass sales peaked in 2012-14 and have been declining since. We don’t want that trend to continue.
The entertainment business is a unique one. Like a theater, or concert hall, it costs the same to operate a water park whether you have 50 people in it or 500. You pay for water, lifeguards, utilities either way. Jacked-up prices don’t do anything for you if you have an empty theater or park because of it.
If you can keep that place busy, you can take in more money even with lower ticket prices. And more money means you have more to invest in renovation and adding new attractions for future seasons, which in turn helps to keep the park busier moving ahead.
I remember back when we started talking about replacing our pool - a plain, worn out rectangular facility, but then again, it was three bucks, with a free toddler pool, and it was always busy.
In the process, we got excited and turned a pool project into a waterfront revolution with a giant tourist resort and all the rest. And it has been a great adventure in community self-actualization.
But if, in the process, we replaced a pool people could afford with one they can’t, we goofed.
So, we should be jazzed to hear our King’s Pointe and our City Council pushing for ways to make it easier for families to get into that waterpark. They get it. And we should encourage them to keep it up.
In a greedy world, consumer prices seldom go anywhere but up. But sometimes, the smart thing is to do exactly what everyone else isn’t.