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Gamble at Splash in the Boro pays off
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    What you are about to read is two stories in one — the story of a “gamble” paying off and the other one of irony at its very best. So, please bear with me as I tie all of this together.
    Mid summer, I reported how well Splash in the Boro was doing. With three new attractions coming on line, Splash was experiencing record attendance numbers far greater than the most optimistic preseason predictions. The Mat Racer, Flow Rider, and new young children’s “Spray Ground” swim area were huge hits with park attendees, and concessions were being sold at a record rate.
    So, you ask, what was the gamble? The gamble to some was the enlargement of Splash last year. With a price tag exceeding $4,000,000 in a free falling economy, many local residents questioned the wisdom of the county incurring debt to update the entrance and enlarge the park.
    Preliminary indications are that is was a very good move. In the future, if attendance keeps on pace with this year’s, then Splash will continue to support itself, pay off its debt, and remain a viable and meaningful attraction to our area.
    Chad Avret, operations division manager for the Statesboro-Bulloch County Parks and Recreation Department shared Splash’s revenue numbers and statistics for the 2009 summer season. According to Avret, more than 154,000 people paid to enter the water park this summer. Total revenues exceeded $1,845,000, and concessions comprised almost $500,000 of that number.
    “In addition to the revenue numbers, we were really surprised to find that many of our guests were coming from two hours or more away,” Avret said. “We knew that we had a lot of people that would travel from an hour away, but this summer was a breakthrough in that we had a tremendous number of people traveling much further.”
    The summer’s biggest disappointment? “We were not able to bring the Mat Racer online until July 4,” Avret said. (This is where the irony part comes in.) Avret said the “slide” part of the Mat Racer – a five lane “racing” water slide – was fabricated in the Philippines, shipped to Los Angeles by boat, and then transported by truck to Statesboro.
    “I called, and called, and called to get the parts here,” he said. “Finally, the last piece was on the way and was scheduled to arrive by tractor trailer on May 24, the first Sunday the park was opened. It came across an ocean, across the country in a truck, and then to Splash. The driver got all of the way here, passed the construction entrance to Splash, and tried to turn around.”
    Avret said at that point, it all went downhill. “In turning his rig around, the driver clipped a power line which generated a spark, and combined with the fumes from the fiberglass, the tractor trailer container went up in flames. The last piece had come all the way to the entrance of the park, only to burn up. It just wasn’t meant to be. What do you do? We just had to wait until a replacement piece arrived. Yes, we made sure this truck didn’t miss the entrance.”
    Irony aside, Splash chugged on along just fine, posting record numbers and revenues proving that the Splash expansion was simply a good business decision giving Statesboro a thriving attraction to bring tourists to our town during the slow summer months when Georgia Southern attendance is at its lowest.

    So, until next Tuesday, I bid you au revoir.
    Got a scoop for Jan? Call her at (912) 489-9463 or email her at

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