May 23, 2014

Surf’s up with south Kansas City’s new BayRider

New surf simulator creates waves at The Bay Water Park on Longview Road in south Kansas City. “This ride has just got my school talking,” said a Raytown High School student who works at the aquatic center.

In the time it takes you to finish this article, Kansas City’s new BayRider can shoot out 19,000 gallons of pressurized water.

That’s about how much liquid it takes to form the wave on the new surf simulator at The Bay Water Park in south Kansas City. The park’s latest addition debuted Friday night — just in time for Memorial Day weekend.

It looks like a giant blue slide with foam walls. Water comes out of the bottom going the opposite direction of gravity forming a surface on which one can hydroplane.

City officials and park staff convened Thursday night at the Bay for a private demonstration by well-seasoned skateboarders who boogied, surfed and gracefully wiped out before an audience served with smoothies and listening to the steel drum.

Now the phrase “surf’s up” is applicable inside city limits.

Kaumeesha Williams, a Raytown High School student and one of the park’s new front desk staff members, said she’s been fielding questions from classmates about when the BayRider would open.

“This ride has just got my school talking,” Williams said.

Quiera Nelson, a Belton resident and newly minted graduate, said she’d been to The Bay twice before the park hired her. But Nelson said she could see herself coming more often with the new attraction.

The park supports more than 100 part- and full-time jobs, according to the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City.

The figures appear in a report that describes the surrounding area as economically depressed with median household incomes about $10,000 below the national average. Retail areas have struggled, the report said.

But City Councilman John Sharp, citing the newly completed Longview Road improvements and the new Save-A-Lot, said the area has a renewed opportunity to beat these stacked odds.

The city’s participation in the operating costs of the park reflects ongoing support to the area.

With the BayRider, the park has an operating cost of about $500,000 annually, according to Heidi Downer, marketing and events manager of the Parks and Recreation Department.

City officials plan to have the costs recovered by ticket sales eventually, but Downer said the park has run deficits since it opened in 2010. She could not specify the exact amount.

However, the park’s purpose isn’t explicitly to make money, said Doug Schroeder, director of golf and aquatics for the Parks and Recreation Department. He cited the city’s decision to lower the price of admission.

“This is a parks facility, and it operates primarily for the benefit of the surrounding community,” he said. “We’re here to serve the surrounding residents.”

The total cost of the BayRider was $1.4 million. With the latest addition, the city has invested $12 million into the water park.

The Bay and its BayRider

Address: 7101 Longview Road, Kansas City

Who can surf: Surfers must be at least 48 inches tall.

Prices: Park admission is $5 for guests under 48 inches, and $9 for those above. Admission is $6 for attendees 60 and over , and free to kids under a year old. Season passes are available.

Hours: Next open from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday. Summer schedule starts Saturday with hours from noon to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. holidays.

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