Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Consultant running numbers on feasibility of county natatorium

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By KEVIN NEVERS

Is there a demand in Porter County for a natatorium?

That’s what a consultant, retained by the Porter County Commissioners in June 2013, is in the penultimate stages of determining.

Lorelei Weimer, executive director of Indiana Dunes Tourism, told the Chesterton Tribune on Friday that Conventions, Sports, & Leisure International (CSL) of Minneapolis, Minn., is “doing a final economic analysis” of the feasibility of developing a swimming facility in the county, intended to serve as a venue for both local and regional competitions.

Spurred by the Commissioners’ creation last year of a so-called “sports cabinet”--whose brief is making athletic tourism a going concern in the county--CSL began its work by interviewing numerous coaches and athletes. “The thing that came out of their input, in big numbers, was swimming,” Weimer said. “We don’t have an Olympic-sized pool.”

The real question, however, is the degree of demand for such a facility. “It’s not just 100-percent tourism,” Weimer said. “We must meet local demand. If you build a new facility, it must be tournament ready. It must be built to accommodate tournaments and competitions.”

“There’s this attitude out there,” Weimer noted. “‘If you build it, they will come.’ Well, that’s not really true. We must do our due diligence, really take a hard look at supply and demand, to see if this makes financial sense.”

Because, Weimer added, “pools are costly to build and maintain. We’re still doing the research.”

The study is one of two being conducted by CSL for the Commissioners. The second is an evaluation of the potential of the County Expo Center and Fairgrounds. Together the two studies cost $134,000, after a $10,000 break for combining the two contracts. The Commissioners are paying for the CSL’s services with CEDIT funds.

 

 

 

 

Posted 2/24/2014