Whitewater center gets a break



If you haven't been to the U.S. National Whitewater Center yet, you should go and find out what all the fuss is about. Don't want to kayak or raft? Don't. Watch those who do. Check out the trails where you can walk or bike. Enjoy a meal. In the summer, there's plenty of live music. Go once and you'll be hooked. With their new rate plans, a day at Whitewater is more affordable than ever.

The bad news: The center opened just in time for an economic collapse, which has made it difficult for its administrators to pay its debts. While it hurts to find out the center needs a bailout, it's no surprise. As any business owner can tell you, it takes years to turn a profit. When a business starts with tens of millions of dollars in debt, that profit slope is all the more difficult to climb.

The bottom line: The U.S. National Whitewater Center may be struggling now, but this is one attraction the Q.C. will be proud of for decades to come.

The U.S National Whitewater Center announced Monday that lenders have forgiven roughly two-thirds of its $38 million debt, a move that the center's director said would position the center for long-term financial success.

Since its opening in 2006, the nonprofit center has been able to turn a small operating profit - but hasn't come close to making a dent in its construction debt.

That has prompted local governments in Mecklenburg and Gaston counties to pay the center $1.7 million annually, as required by the original agreement that helped build the center in northwest Mecklenburg.

The center has been in default on its loans. It has paid no principal and very little interest.

After the bailout, the center will still owe its lenders $12.4 million. Executive Director Jeff Wise said that debt will be paid off in five years ...

Read the rest of this Charlotte Observer article, by Steve Harrison, here.

Frustrated by the bailout? I get it. Why don't you go work off some of that excess energy on the water?

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