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Great Wolf: Despite critics it isn’t the big bad wolf

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POSTED August 18, 2014 1:05 a.m.

Should Manteca have blocked the Hampton Inn that has created dozens of jobs and so far brought more than $200,000 into city coffers in the form of room taxes because the general public isn’t allowed to use the hotel’s pool without booking a room?

That’s City Council candidate Richard Silverman’s take on those who think Manteca should derail Great Wolf’s proposed 500-room resort proposed for city land next to Costco that is projected to generate several millions of room tax dollars each year for Manteca.

Some have said it is ridiculous that as Manteca residents they have to rent a room to use the waterpark adding that it is too costly to do so.

First, it is not a waterpark. It is a resort built around an indoor waterpark. That’s the attrarction.

McWhinney Development, the firm that wants to build the $150 million complex in Manteca, has made it clear there will be local public access days without the need to book a room during off-peak times. That generally means when school is not in session since school vacations are when their bookings are at the highest.

And if what they charge for that privilege is anything like their suite rates, then it could be even less expensive than going to Raging Waters in Roseville.

The best deal for Raging Waters is $29.99 with those 4 feet or less being admitted for $21.99. That’s $163.94 for one day’s access for six people with two under four feet.

The best deal for a Great Wolf Resort suite at Ground Mound in Washington State is $199 for six people. That includes one night’s stay and two days water park access. With two kids under 4 feet that would cost $199 for two days or the equivalent of $99.50 for one day — $64.44  less than Raging Waters. And with Great Wolf you get a resort room.

Some operate under the assumption that a waterpark in 2014 will charge the same as did the Manteca Waterslides for their use. Waterpark admissions of $5 and $10 went the way of 55 cent per gallon gasoline years ago. 

Nor does McWhinney wish for an exclusive waterpark deal. They have no problems with Raging Waters or anyone else opening a waterpark across the street from the proposed Manteca resort.

They do not fear competition because there is no competition. Great Wolf operates an all encompassing resort. That is not what a day use waterpark is all about.

Another persistent criticism of Great Wolf is its use of water given we are in the middle of a severe drought.

It’s a legitimate concern.

Company representatives have noted beyond the initial “fill up” of the waterpark water use is kept at a minimum. That’s because they employ a state-of-the-art filtering system and work to recapture as much water as they can. That’s possible due to the closed environment which, unlike Raging Water, is not subject to sun driven evaporation.

Technology is much like modern car washes where 98 percent of the water is cleaned and recycled.

Besides, wasting water costs money. Given the volume of the waterpark not recycling as much of it as possible would be the same as pouring money down the drain.

The earliest Great Wolf could open if it gets approval later this year is late 2016 or early 2017.

Then there are those who don’t like the fact the bulk of the 414 full-time jobs and 156 part-time jobs are likely to be in the $10 to $12 an hour range. Manteca needs all types of jobs including those at the lower end. Our unemployment is still stuck at 9.6 percent.

And even if most of the $10 to $12 an hour jobs go to young people out of high school or in college who aren’t head of households, that should be considered a plus.

Not only is Great Wolf offering roughly four times more jobs than Oakwood Lake/Manteca Waterslides did at its peak, but many of the jobs will be year-round and not seasonal as they were with the Brown family.

Back 24 years ago, those leading the “we need jobs” chorus in Manteca slammed Wal-Mart after the retailing giant announced they were building a store here. The criticism was they weren’t head of household jobs.

It didn’t matter that those seeking similar jobs had the added expense of driving out of Manteca  to get them or the fact people who needed to shop at Wal-Mart for economic reasons also had to drive out-of-town to do so.

Talk to people who have worked at Wal-Mart in Manteca during the past 24 years. I’d bet most were happy to have employment.

Besides, everyone has to start somewhere. Few people land $20 an hour jobs out of the gate.

Those are three reasons that are batted around by the Manteca Greek Chorus as to why they believe Manteca should chase off Great Wolf.

In the end, they aren’t arguments of any rational consequence. McWhinney and Great Wolf expect to profit from a Manteca resort but so will its future workers as well as 72,000 Manteca residents who will have resort guests helping foot the bill for various municipal services such as police and fire protection.


This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209.249.3519.

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