Aquatic center keeping its head above water

As the Dallas Aquatic Center enters its second year, City officials work to make sure it runs smoothly and within budget

DALLAS -- As the Dallas Aquatic Center enters its second year, the City is working to ensure the center runs smoothly and within budget.

The City hired a consultant with experience in aquatic centers to see how to bring in more money at the Dallas center. In addition, the consultant's report gave guidelines for improving marketing and scheduling.

The biggest changes will come in pricing. The City will offer senior citizen discounts and eliminate the current special rates. One admission to the center will remain $4.50 for Dallas adults, $3 for Dallas children. For nonresidents, the prices stay at $6 for adults, $4 for children.

Dallas seniors would pay $5 per visit, other seniors $3.50.

The aquatic center will also offer coupon books good for 20 uses. These expire one month after purchase or, for a greater price, three months after purchase.

Those who want unlimited use of the center can buy a yearly membership or annual pass.

The changes will get people into the aquatic center with less hassle, said City Manager Roger Jordan. "We're selling more convenience with memberships," Jordan said.

"People won't have to wait in long lines. We can move people through admissions a lot quicker."

The suggestions in the consultant's report will help bring the center to its financial goals, Jordan said. Currently, the center brings in around 41 percent of what it spends, shy of the City's 50 percent goal.

The City has been using money from its "rainy day" fund to cover aquatic center costs since the center opened last November. After using this fund for three years, the budget will balance without it, Jordan said.

Dallas budgeted more than $720,000 for the aquatic center this year.

The City has also begun an analysis on how to cut the center's expenses, Jordan said. Utilities and pool chemical costs have skyrocketed in the last year.

"We use huge amounts of electricity and natural gas," Jordan said. "Due to the energy crisis, costs have been more than twice what we anticipated."

Still, Jordan is confident. "We will be in budget by the end of this year," he said.

The aquatic center, closed for maintenance since Oct. 1, reopens Oct. 15.

In all, Jordan is pleased with the first year. "The Dallas Aquatic Center has become the premier family center in the community for thousands of people every month," Jordan said.

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