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Developers of the enormous, Mall of America-adjacent indoor water park say admission to the much-ballyhooed attraction will likely be $60-$70.

Plans for the park, currently being referred to as "Mystery Cove," were discussed at a joint Bloomington City Council and Port Authority meeting Wednesday. 

It was during this meeting that Kurt Hagen, senior vice president of Triple 5, said ticket prices for Mystery Cove "might be close to $60" when it opens in 2024, based on findings from market studies. 

A chart comparing water park admission prices included in the meeting documents lists a cost of $59 during off-peak days, and $69 for peak times.

When asked by Port Authority Commissioner Jenna Carter if there might be a discount for Bloomington residents, Hagen noted they're open to it, but haven't formally discussed such a plan. The redevelopment agreement, however, specifies a "meaingful" resident discount would be required. 

Bloomington city leaders, in collaboration with the Port Authority and Mall of America owners Triple 5, have been exploring the idea of an indoor water park for years, with discussions kicking off in earnest back in March 2018.

Since then, the project — 320,000 square feet, and slated to be built on Triple 5-owned land just north of MOA (and east of IKEA) — has hit a few skids, most notably COVID. But with travel and leisure spending bouncing back, the city is taking steps to push the project forward.

Taxes are a big reason why. City documents note that Mall of America is a significant portion of Bloomington's tax base. Adding non-retail attractions (e.g., an attached water park) would diversify the entertainment offerings and drive an estimated 900,000 tourists to the area each year — likely funneling many of them into the megamall as well.

In theory, the city would see extra revenue from admissions taxes, with a boost expected from existing lodging taxes as well, according to a project page.

The water park would be constructed through a nonprofit, which would assume  the construction debt for the $422 million project as it's able to access lower interest rate financing (without which, the entire project wouldn't be feasible, the documents say). 

Revenue from the park would then be used to pay back the debt. Mall of America owners Triple 5 would not see direct profits from Mystery Cove, but would be paid a fee for the lease of its land and a fee to manage the water park.

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However, public improvements around the park will be paid for with tax increment financing (TIF), meaning portions of the project would be publicly funded. The $105 million TIF was approved by the city this week, with some of that money also going towards Bloomington's hosting of the 2027 World Expo.

The city says there is no risk of the water park impacting property taxes, as if admissions lag and there is a shortfall, a new tax would be levied at Mall of America to make up the difference.

If completed, Mystery Cove would be one of the largest indoor water parks in the world, featuring a wave pool, a beach, slides and more. 

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