A new study indicates that within the first year of opening an indoor water park in Little Elm, the facility would have an economic impact of nearly $5 million.
The Hotel and Leisure Advisors completed an economic impact study for the proposed 35,000-square-foot indoor water park at Little Elm Recreation Center. With a construction budget of $11.2 million, the center would produce $5.58 million in earnings and create 121 jobs. The total economic impact, during construction, would be $16 million.
In its first year, the water park is expected to earn $1.7 million and produce 65 jobs. It should have a total economic impact of $4.95 million.
“We feel like these numbers are pretty conservative, which is the way we would prefer it,” Town Manager Matt Mueller said.
The study also looked at what kind of ripple effect the water park would have. Mueller said it would have a large impact on the lakefront area.
“This water park would give us more tools to recruit amenities like hotels along the lakefront,” Mueller said.
According to the study, visitor spending outside the water park could have an impact of $5 million during the first year.
Over 10 years, the water park and outside visitor spending could have a total output of $121 million and employ 131 people. The study estimated that there would be 275,000 visits within the first 10 years.
“We’re already better off than what the study showed on the recreation center that opened last year,” Mueller said. “The study showed what we were anticipating, it should increase visitation to the lakefront and regional visitors.”
Mayor David Hillock said he wants to ensure that the town looks at the worst-case scenario for the economic impact of the water park.
“The numbers look good, but I do think it’s pretty conservative,” Hillock said.
Mueller said there is $14 million set aside in the budget to build the water park. He said town officials anticipate using “every bit of available space.”
“The water park will be about half the size of the water park in Grand Prairie,” Mueller said. “We think we have an innovative concept and design. We have the opportunity to build a facility that serves as regional draw.”
Mueller said residents might ask why the town is spending so much on a water park.
“We will fail if we try to become Frisco part II,” Mueller said. “This is all part of a bigger vision. In order to get as much revenue to sustain programs that are key to local government like police and fire, we need amenities like this.”
The Town Council also approved a design contract with C.T. Brannon Corporation for an amount not to exceed $980,000 with construction starting in January. Mueller said the water park is a little behind the initial timeline.
“If we’re going to do something we want it to be awesome,” Mueller said. “It might not be as large as other facilities, but it will be different.”