Casino and water park?

The goal before eleven o’clock is to write two special-election posts. I doubt that will happen, but I am going to try. First, I would like to make amends for the awful effort I made last night to write about the Linn County casino referendum.

This water park proposal — which would also include a bowling alley and entertainment venue — is ridiculous if you ask me. I understand Dan Kehl, the CEO of the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort, is advertising it as a family-friendly alternative, but how many Iowa water parks were open and making money today? None, unless they are inside. At the very least, a water park would be open Memorial Day to Labor Day, and then the slides would be dry and the wave pools (and cash registers) would be empty for the rest of the year. It would be a massive eyesore for five or six months, much like the water parks in Davenport and Waterloo.

Speaking of the Waterloo water park: I find it highly ironic that Kehl’s beef with a Linn County casino is the competition, yet his counter proposal would compete with the water park in Waterloo. But whatever. The thing is a water park does not generate as much revenue as a casino operating 24/7/365. Nobody blows $5,000 while lounging on a lazy river.

That said, though, I do think a water park would be the perfect, family-friendly option to augment a casino. If I were one of the casino investors, I would say, “Hey, guys. Why not build a casino and water park?”

Back when I was eleven or twelve, we were visiting Dubuque (or maybe Davenport) and my parents decided to stop by the riverboat. It was probably my mom’s idea, but I was pretty stoked to be on a boat and experience the casino. However, children were not allowed in the gambling area so our first stop was the child care room (which, if I remember correctly, was located across the gambling area). It was essentially a closet with a couple pinball machines, arcade games, and a fountain machine with free pop. There were a handful of other kids and a couple teenage girls supervising the whole operation. A few of the kids seemed like regulars, and one of the girls told my sister and I we would have fun. I remember standing next to one of the games in the cramped room, looking around, and thinking, “I have to spend the next couple hours in this place?” My parents were in the process of checking us in when they decided against it. Our riverboat visit ended after five minutes. While descending the gangplank to the parking lot, my dad said, “There was no way I could do that to you guys.” Thank God. I could not imagine spending fifteen minutes in that place.

Needless to say, casinos are not family-friendly so I think it would behoove the investors to sweeten their proposal with a water park. Or, perhaps Kehl could see the light. However, he already said his water park idea is kaput if Linn County approves tomorrow’s referendum.

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