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    Judge’s Comment: Interesting, a government entity run like a business.
 

Operating the Splash! La Mirada Regional Aquatics Center as a savvy business venture has been a smart move. Since opening for its first summer in 2008, season pass sales have nearly doubled, and the operation has far surpassed cost recovery expectations of 70 percent. In 2011, cost recovery reached 98 percent.

Run by the city of La Mirada’s Community Services Department, the center includes a 50-meter competition pool, 25-yard heated teaching pool and Buccaneer Bay waterpark. Features in the waterpark include three two-story water slides; a zero-depth play structure for little ones; two splashing spraypad areas; and a 500-foot lazy river.

To help offset costs, the facility uses an aggressive marketing program coupled with lucrative partnerships and location rentals for television, commercial and advertising shoots.

Staff members get the word out in a variety of ways and organically bring in more guests. For instance, they visit local second grade students annually and conduct a water safety program. Recreational swimming is free during the summer, which introduces patrons to the facility’s other low-cost programs, such as swim lessons, water polo, synchronized swimming and diving.

Marketing strategies include online deal sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial; as well as advertising through radio, pizza boxes, church bulletins and 5k runs.

Splash experienced a challenge in 2010 when its Family Friday Nights showed low attendance. Staff members took it upon themselves to shorten the event’s hours, and feature it as a LivingSocial deal. Those two changes generated more than $22,000 over the past two years for this one event.

Given their success, the team is currently exploring adding new features and obtaining a sponsor to help subsidize the cost.