With rainy days in abundance this summer, Splash in the Boro is experiencing a significant drop in attendance and, consequently, revenue.
The park had attendance of 82,945 for the season at this time last year. This year, through Sunday, attendance was only 67,724. Statesboro-Bulloch Parks and Recreation Department Director Mike Rollins said the park faces two challenges on rainy, summer days.
"On a gloomy day, we have to be open and staff appropriately for a typical crowd," he said. "You may be able to staff down a little at the front desk or in concessions, but not with your water safety staff. If someone from out of town is thinking about coming to the park, and there is a 50 percent chance of rain, they probably aren't going to make that trip."
Rollins also said a pattern of rain in the middle of the day has been very problematic.
"People tend to leave when it is raining, and the park empties quite a bit," he said. "Once it does that, it very rarely will fill back up. People just don't come. So you end up missing half a day or so of revenue."
County Manager Tom Couch said this is the first truly rainy season the park has had since its opening in 2004.
"At some point, we knew we would have a summer like this," he said. "And we have worked very hard to prepare for it by continuing to grow our reserve account. I am not exactly sure at this very point what is in that account, but I am comfortable in saying that it is at least $500,000. We will be fine. Mike (Rollins) and his crew have always been very conscientious of that, and I have to give them a tremendous amount of credit."
Couch said he expects summer revenue numbers for this year to drop by the same percentage amount as attendance. Summer revenues for fiscal 2012 (July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012) were $1,809,000. This season's revenues to date are $1,025,113 with return to school for Bulloch County children rapidly approaching.
"That is a big deal, unfortunately," Rollins said. "Our kids in Bulloch County go back the 1st of August, and August is traditionally the hottest month. July follows, and then September. We basically miss a month of heavy, local attendance in August, which is difficult."
Couch said the biggest surprise to him is that a rainy summer like this one hasn't come sooner.
"We knew at some point, we would have a really wet summer, and that revenue would be significantly impacted," he said. "What do you do? It is a wonderful facility, and attendance is still pretty good this summer considering all of the rain and rainy days that we have had. It will be fine."
Rollins said that 53 days into summer operation this year, Splash has been open for 44. At 53 days of operation last year, it had been open 48.75 days.
Splash in the Boro encompasses 155 acres and is located in Mill Creek Regional Park on Georgia Highway 24 East. Since opening, the park has expanded twice.