Skip to main content

'Don't build Mall of America water park,' says nearby competitor

The CEO of nearby Great Wolf Lodge says it's too risky of an endeavor.

There's at least one prominent opponent to the Mall of America's plans for a massive water park in Bloomington: another water park in Bloomington.

The plans to create the largest indoor waterpark in North America on land northeast of – and owned by – the MOA have raised plenty of eyebrows since they were first revealed last year.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it's prompted an objection from Murray Hennessy, the CEO of Great Wolf Resorts, which operates the Great Wolf Lodge waterpark and hotel – formerly the Waterpark of America – just across Hwy. 77 from Ikea.

In a letter sent to the city this week, Hennessy lists several concerns about the project, including about how it's being funded, and the possibility that there won't be enough visitors to make it a success.

But ultimately, the construction of a significantly larger, open-to-the-public waterpark within a few hundred yards of Great Wolf's own resort (which is for guests only), represents a titanic threat to Hennessy's business.

And he feels like the city is rolling out the red carpet for MOA owners Triple 5, offering incentives and funding to build an attraction that would directly benefit the MOA, which it would arguably not provide smaller businesses.

"As the City takes steps to provide public support to a Mall of America waterpark – whether through special debt financing, property tax avoidance or sales taxes to support waterpark operations – you will also change the economics for other properties in this area," Hennessy wrote.

"Our operation in Bloomington will have direct competition from an indoor waterpark that will abide by a different set of economic rules than Great Wolf Resorts or any other local business does.

"Future developers will have little incentive to build new amenities knowing the Mall of America will always have an economic advantage in an otherwise open market.

"Cannibalizing existing business enterprises in order to add a new attraction for the Mall of America is bad strategy for long-term business development and tax stability – even if the Mall’s waterpark succeeds, the rest of the City doesn’t."

Follow BMTN on LinkedIn

Bloomington Port Authority Administrator Schane Rudlang, in a response reported by the Business Journal, said that there is plenty of space for two competing businesses.

"The water park project provides an recreational amenity and attraction to the metro area that does not exist today,” he wrote.

"Many water parks co-exist in the same area, with the closest example being the Wisconsin Dells."

Concerns over the funding 

It was revealed in city documents in October that the planned water park would cost between $230 million and $250 million.

The city has proposed creating a nonprofit so the park is exempt from property taxes, and it's allowed to access lower-cost construction loans to fund the project.

It would lease the land from Triple 5, while Triple 5 would sign a 50-year lease to operate the water park.

The city says that the revenue generated from the water park would be enough to pay off the debt taken on to build it, while any shortfall would be made up by additional taxes on the Mall of America.

But Hennessy thinks there's a real chance that the water park fails, arguing there's not enough traffic to sustain a 365-day-a-year water park.

This would result in the aforementioned extra tax levies on the MOA.

This in turn could be passed on to customers, making the MOA a less attractive destination for the 40 million-plus visitors is attracts each year, leading to a negative knock-on effect for other local businesses that rely on MOA traffic.

Next Up

Image (1)

School bus carrying students plunges into river southwest of Fargo

None of the kids suffered life-threatening injuries, though some were taken to area hospitals.

Richfield High School

Richfield High School cancels weekend events after shooting

Two men were shot outside the school's football stadium

Screen Shot 2022-09-23 at 10.21.38 PM

Sound of shots, mass panic at Richfield football game streamed live on YouTube

Gunfire caused panic at a varsity football game Friday night.

J. Gordon

K-9 search leads to $36K fentanyl seizure during traffic stop

A traffic stop was made after the vehicle was seen speeding through the area.

Screen Shot 2022-09-23 at 5.20.08 PM

Gov. Walz reacts to Tuesday death of Mankato West student

The governor is a former geography teacher at the high school.

court room

Teen pleads guilty to Minneapolis carjacking, admits to others

The man was yanked out of the vehicle by witnesses before fleeing the scene.

Federal court house

Three plead guilty to roles in murder on Red Lake Reservation

The 2019 murder left another person seriously injured.

image

Sheriff: Heifer shot and butchered on farmer's pasture near Aitkin

Anyone with information regarding the incident is encouraged to call the Clearwater County Sheriff's Office.

SwearegeneMugDouglasCoJail

Minneapolis murder suspect arrested in Wisconsin

The man has been wanted by police since the shooting happened in April.

police lights squad car dark - Unsplash

Charges: Man kidnapped woman at gunpoint, forced her to withdraw $1,500

The 56-year-old suspect is accused of forcing the woman to the Seward neighborhood in Minneapolis.

police lights

Police arrest suspect in Oakdale after 10-hour standoff

The standoff with police lasted over 10 hours Friday.

Related

Screen Shot 2019-12-17 at 9.49.33 AM

Gallery: New images released of giant Mall of America water park

The City of Bloomington approved the development plan on Monday.

Plans for MOA's giant waterpark get even bigger, as does the cost

The project could now cost as much as $250 million.

Mall of America

Mall of America is laying off more than 200 workers

It represents around a fifth of its workforce.

American Girl to say goodbye to the Mall of America

The doll store is closing its MOA and Boston stores.

Sears to close Mall of America store, Kmart in Rochester

The beleaguered retailer is shutting 80 stores nationwide.

hotel

Coronavirus: Mall of America hotel laying off nearly 100 workers

The Radisson Hotel Group earlier this month laid off workers from its downtown Minneapolis hotel.