Mall of America pitches adding massive water park that city would own, finance

Paul Walsh, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Business News

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- The Mall of America is proposing a massive water park just east of the mall that the city of Bloomington would finance, own and collect the potential profits from.

The mall's owners, Triple 5, who said they have been contemplating adding a water park for years, made their pitch to the city's Port Authority in a memo made public Wednesday.

The document said Triple 5 would lease the land to the city and be hired by the city to operate the park, which would cost $150 million to $200 million to build, measure roughly 225,000 square feet and be "one of the largest indoor water parks in North America."

This park would be open to the public, unlike the much smaller Great Wolf Lodge water park near the mall that gives access only to its hotel guests.

Triple 5 said the park would like to have a major "international brand" involved such as DreamWorks or Nickelodeon, which already is the brand for the mall's indoor amusement park.

The mall owners' memo held up the water park at their West Edmonton Mall in Alberta as a model for what they want at the Mall of America, pointing out that the West Edmonton park has slides, other rides, a large wave pool that hosts evening beach parties and surfing leagues.

West Edmonton's water park "brings in over 500,000 users annually and adds to the vibrancy" of the mall, the memo read.

Private financing for an MOA water park was considered, the memo continued, but interest rates for that option would likely create higher payments on the debt than the park's revenue could support.

Because the city can borrow money at rates below what's available to private entities, Triple 5 said its early projections show a potential for $1 million to $2 million in annual profits.

In response and ahead of deciding whether to sign off on the project, the Port Authority is recommending to the city that up to 10 port representatives visit the West Edmonton water park as part of its continued analysis of Triple 5's proposal.

The plot of land being eyed for the MOA water park is now surface parking owned by Triple 5. The park is part of an "Adjoining Lands" plan that includes one or more hotels, performance and meeting space and unspecified sports areas.

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