Just prior to the construction of the Boise Whitewater Park, the 30th Street area was a disinvested neighborhood. Today it is part of a burgeoning economic area, with street improvements, recreation opportunities, new retail and service offerings. Other communities with whitewater parks have experienced economic impacts to the local economy in terms of millions of dollars. This neighborhood is poised to see the same kinds of benefits.
In Golden, Colorado, a whitewater park on Clear Creek contributes an estimated $2 million annually to the city’s economy. A river recreation park in Vail contributes $1.8 million annually, and a park in Breckenridge $1.4 million annually.
More than three out of four Americans engage in healthy outdoor activities. Of these outdoor recreation enthusiasts, 24 million enjoy paddling sports. More than 150,000 Idahoans in 2007 – 16% of the population – enjoyed paddle sports, the same number in fact as enjoyed winter snow sports such as skiing, snowshoeing and snowboarding combined.
Paddlers represent a growing group of outdoor sports enthusiasts. Nationally, the number of kayakers increased 185 percent and the number of rafters increased 36 percent from 1994 to 2001.
An economic machine – generating economic benefits by attracting residents and visitors.
In nearby Cascade, Idaho, a University of Idaho Extension study showed that the park drew nearly 20,000 visitors its first year, and 50,000 the next. That figure will increase as Kelly’s develops further.
Of the visitors to Kelly’s in 2011, the study estimated
- About 25% came to Cascade specifically for the park
- Another 54% had Kelly’s as one of several destinations on their trip
- The remaining 21% decided to visit Kelly’s while already in Valley County.
In all, the study estimates that 15,000 of the 40,000 unique daily visitors were new (incremental) to Valley County. This translates into an economic impact on Valley County of approximately $600,000, more than $400,000 of which was realized in Cascade, primarily in campground fees and restaurant spending.
The Boise Whitewater Park will feature the latest hydrologic technology, adaptable to various water flows, and allowing year-round accessibility. It is being designed with with space for spectators, expositions and the media to host regional and national events.
When one considers the cost of gear, transportation, lodging and other expenditures associated with kayaking, canoeing and rafting, the economic impact of more in Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada and Wyoming combined is $1.5 billion annually. The Boise Whitewater Park has the potential to have a tremendous economic impact.