BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – The Mall of America may soon feature a taxpayer-funded waterpark.
Triple Five, the owners of Mall of America, proposed a $150-200 million taxpayer-funded waterpark to the Bloomington City Council and Port Authority.
The waterpark would be 225,000 square feet and would be located on the east side of the mall, also known as the Adjoining Lands. Triple Five believes that a waterpark would add to the “vibrancy and resiliency” of their property, and would help them compete with larger retailers like Amazon.
The waterpark would be modeled after the waterpark attached to West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, which is also owned by Triple Five. West Edmonton Mall’s waterpark is 215,000 square feet and attracts over 500,000 people annually.
“MOA has performed much better than most bricks and mortar retail developments due in part to its entertainment and tourism focus but continuing to diversify the MOA project with new traffic generators (e.g., attached hotels and office as well as more inline entertainment) is a top priority for Triple Five,” the proposal states “MOA is about 70% retail today. Triple 5 has been interested in having a water park as part of the MOA project for years.”
Due to the project’s high price tag, Triple Five has proposed that the waterpark is owned and financed by the city. The proposal states Bloomington would be able to borrow money at lower rates than a private entity as well as using taxpayer money to fund the proposal through methods like levying unused sales taxes. The city would have to lease the property from Triple Five as well as hire the ownership group to act as the operator/manager, both at market rate.
In Triple Five’s best projection, the waterpark could produce $1-2 million in annual profits, a fraction of the original cost.
If the waterpark fails to meet Triple 5’s projections, Bloomington could end up like Vadnais Heights which built a large sports complex that was guaranteed to have a first-year revenue of $2.4 million. However, the sports complex was a colossal failure, leaving the city in a perpetual shortfall.
Triple Five claims Bloomington would not repeat Vadnais Heights’ mistakes because of the “security” of taxpayer funding through methods like unused sales taxes. Instead, they argue the expansion of the Mall of America is “important to the reputation” of the city.
“Continued health of MOA is important to the reputation of the City as well as directly impacting the amount the City needs to levy to operate,” the proposal states.