BY FAIMON A. ROBERTS III
Advocate staff writer
September 05, 2012
Attendance at BREC’s Liberty Lagoon dipped by more than 10,000 visitors in the water park’s sophomore year, but those who came spent more, so the facility generated about the same amount of revenue as in 2011, park system officials said Friday.
In 2012, the water park hosted 53,440 guests, down from 63,891 in 2011, said Dale Auzenne, the East Baton Rouge Park and Recreation Commission’s assistant superintendent over recreation programs and facilities.
Auzenne attributed much of the decline in attendance to weather.
“We either had to be open and then had to close because of rain or we didn’t open at all,” he said. Liberty Lagoon closed 38 days for weather during the 2012 season, compared with 33 during the 2011 season, he said.
Hurricane Isaac forced BREC officials to close the park Labor Day weekend, the final three days of the season, Auzenne said.
Despite the lower attendance, revenue from the water park was expected to be about the same as in 2011, said Brett Weinberger, who oversees BREC’s aquatics program.
However, he said, revenue from Liberty Lagoon will be less than what had been projected in 2012.
In 2011, Liberty Lagoon brought in $697,554, according to a financial summary provided by BREC. Park system officials had projected the water park would generate $925,100 in revenue for 2012, the summary shows.
Auzenne said visitors to the park each spent an average of $2 more per visit to Liberty Lagoon in 2012.
Weinberger said there was a small increase — less than 40 cents — in ticket prices, but concessions and other items cost the same.
The increase in ticket prices from $9.81 to $10 for an adult and from $7.63 to $8 for a child were to ease operations, he said.
“That was mostly so it would be an even number for people coming in,” he said. “It made it much easier.”
Weinberger said the addition of two new pavilions to the water park, bringing the total number to five, allowed the park to host 500 parties in 2012 compared with 330 during its first year of operations.
“We also had more day camps and outside groups come this year,” he said.
While revenue was less than projected for 2012, BREC was able to hold costs down by saving on labor costs, Weinberger said.
“When we are closed, then we are able to adjust our staffing to meet the needs,” he said. “The days we were closed, we weren’t spending as much.”
Auzenne said costs will continue to accrue through the rest of the year.
“That facility is running year-round from a maintenance standpoint,” he said.
Equipment must be checked and chemicals added to the pools, he said.