Water park proposed for North Myrtle Beach sports complex

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) — A group of investors wants to build a water park in North Myrtle Beach's new park and sports complex that is now in the works. The idea has to get approval from city council first.

Council members heard a presentation about the proposed park on Monday night

The water park owners would lease seven acres within the city's new complex. They say the park would be comparable to Myrtle Waves or Wild Water and Wheels.

It would initially have about ten attractions such as a wave pool, lazy river, and multiple slides, but the investors say they would plan to add more after the first two years.

The project would cost nearly $26 million.

City Spokesman Pat Dowling said council members liked the proposal. They see it as a possible economic development opportunity and an good addition to the sports complex.

Al Shotwell who lives in North Myrtle Beach has a similar has a similar opinion.

"We'd like to keep the tourist that come to North Myrtle Beach up here and let them spend their money here," he said. "I think they probably will go along with it because a large attraction up here is what we really need to keep the money and the commerce in North Myrtle Beach."

The city would also get a direct kickback. The water park owners want to pay five percent of gross revenue to lease the land in the complex. That is estimated to be more than $300,000 a year for the city.

Dowling said some people may have doubts about how successful the park would be west of the Intracoastal Waterway where the future sport complex will be located. However, he said the investors, a consultant and city council believe the location works well. The park would be visible from Highway 31, and it would be in an area that is not congested with traffic.

Dowling said that is in contrast to Hard Rock Park which failed west of the waterway in Myrtle Beach. Dowling said Highway 501 provided plenty of visibility, but the traffic congestion was much worse and accessibility was not sufficient.

Dowling said the developers also took into consideration several other factors that contributed to Hard Rock Park's failure. For example, Hard Rock Park was criticized for not having enough attractions for the ticket price. The city's advisor for this park proposal has suggested the park have the same number of rides/attractions as other water parks in the area.

Also, Dowling said the theme for Hard Rock Park was not well-received by a large audience. In contrast, a water park is considered family friendly, and there is a lot of demand for such activities Dowling said. He also said there is a big plan for marketing the water park, which some believe Hard Rock Park failed to do.

Council members say they will not move forward unless they have an air-tight legal agreement. For example, they want to be sure if the park does not succeed at first, that it does not sit idle. So the city wants rights to handle operations until a new owner could takes over in that situation.

They will discuss the legal matters during a meeting on Monday. Several changes the proposal could also be in the works. So Dowling said it is unclear when the proposal may be up for a vote.

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