"Speak Out" is an expression of opinion from the Editorial Board of WBTV, and is presented by General Manager, Nick Simonette.
Since opening in 2006, the US National Whitewater Center has failed to turn a profit.
It has paid interest but no principal on $38 million in construction debt.
Twice the non-profit has defaulted on its loan payments.
Twice it has asked for money from the six local governments who pledged to help cover shortfalls.
Mecklenburg County is the largest public partner, having pledged $7 million over seven years.
While the facility has potential, the bottom line is its drowning in debt... and taxpayers may be left soaking wet.
While visionary in concept, the center has been poorly marketed.
To continue down this road and think for any reason the center will suddenly become a viable and profitable entity is foolish.
We urge commissioners to set a new course.
Someone has to step up, take the pulse of this project and find a way to create an opportunity for public to recoup some of its investment.
Simply put, we believe it's in the taxpayer's best interest to get new ideas on how to properly operate and market the park.
As the, quote, "World's largest artificial whitewater river and an official U.S. Olympic Training Site", we think the idea is well and good... but the bottom line is that so far, we've seen many more dollars go down the drain than rafters float down the river.