US National White Water Center projects small profit - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

US National White Water Center projects small profit

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By Trent Faris - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte is millions in debt and facing default, but the company says it's posting a profit.

The Whitewater Center expects to bring-in nearly $7 million this year, just enough to cover its bills and make a small profit of $11,000.

The city of Charlotte gives the center $286,000 annually in taxpayer dollars.

The Center says despite the recession, people are coming out to enjoy the rapids, rock wall climbing, and the cafe.

"The bulk of our business takes place between April and the end of October, so we're cautiously optimistic we're going to end up having a pretty good year," said Operations Manager Jeff Wise.

Hank Broska and his wife spent some time at the U.S. National Whitewater Center on Thursday.

"It's our first time," said Broska.  "We heard so much about it."

This year, the park is offering an all-sport pass of $49 which makes it more affordable and allows visitors to enjoy all the park has to offer.  Officials think this help boost the bottom line.

There's also better access via I-485, making it easier to find the park in Western Mecklenburg County.

Despite the success, the center still has a big debt to repay.

"So now, what we have is a $38 million debt we have to pay back off of our operating income and that is just a lot of money to pay back," said Wise.

The center is in default, but it's working with banks to pay the loan back.  The taxpayer money the center gets isn't just a handout, local governments also use the center for training.

"In other words, they contractually agree over a seven year period to pay an aggregate of 12 million dollars providing park and recreation services economic development services and swift water rescue services," said Wise.

But for visitors to the park, the public investment may be worth it.

"Now, we see it its really nice," said Broska.

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