Two Scottsdale men say they the know the wave of the future. Richard Mladick and Jerry Hug are planning to build what they say will be a huge outdoor superpark for surfing, whitewater rafting and kayaking and other adventure sports.
Called the Waveyard, the park is proposed on more than 200 acres, but Mladick and Hug declined to say where the site is other than within a 30 minute drive from downtown Phoenix. The project is expected to be constructed on major freeway frontage, they said.
“We’re in the later stage of negotiations,” Mladick said Wednesday. “We need to let the ink dry on everything.”
The two said the park would be the the first live, work and play, surfing and adventure sports community in the United States. The idea is it would be possible to surf, raft, snorkel and kayak and still be home by dinner.
“This is not a theme park,” Mladick says. “This is not about roller-coasters and cotton candy. This is about action and adventure sports and a retail experience unlike anything that anybody has ever seen before.”
The two have been working on the concept for three years and “are into the project for millions of dollars.” Three feasibility studies were done and and international team of sporting experts and engineers are working on the concept. Testing was even performed in Scotland.
They have enlisted Matt Salmon, a former Arizona congressman, to educate business and community leaders concerning the project. The two say the Waveyard could draw 1 million people a year.
But, like the site, they have little to say about how the project will be financed.
“Upon the announcement of the site, at that point in time, we will then avail to the press the financial sponsors in conjunction with city officials,” Hug said.
Mladick said tax incentives or other government assistance are part of an ongoing discussion.
“That’s part of the reason we’re just not prepared to talk about all of that yet,” he said of the location and financing.
An avid surfer since the age of 10, Mladick has a development company that specializes mostly in homebuilding and architectural design. His company has also built large swimming pools.
Hug has a background in finance and corporate strategy. Before founding Waveyard, he was vice president of corporate strategy at Valleybased Wireless Retail. The company, with operations across the United States, had 5,000 employees and, at its peak, revenues of $400 million. It was sold to Radio Shack.
The two hope to break ground on Waveyard in 2007.
“We’re the only major market in the United States without a theme park,” Mladick said. “I think people here are crying for recreational opportunities that are not being delivered right now, on every level from young children all the way through to adults and even your Baby Boom generation.”
The two say they have climate on their side because the Valley has more days of sunshine than any other market in the United States. And they say the Valley is large enough and growing.
The only other U.S. project similar to Waveyard is the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, N.C. The center has a multiplechannel, customized whitewater river for rafting and canoe-kayak enthusiasts. It also offers mountain-biking trails, a climbing center, running trails and camping areas. The center is in more than 300 acres of woodlands along the Catawba River.
“Until we open, that will be the world’s largest recirculating whitewater river,” Mladick said, adding the center is like his project with one exception.
“They have whitewater,” he said. “We have whitewater and surfing and amphitheaters and hotels, massive retail, indoor water parks and residential.”
Features of proposed huge outdoor superpark:
• Surfing, rafting, kayaking, climbing, scuba diving, snorkeling, skateboarding, mountain biking, fly fishing, canoeing, volleyball and boogie boarding.
• 320 room resort hotel with 150 resort villas.
• 30,000 square-foot conference center, a spa and wellness center, a massive sand beach, numerous restaurants, a 55,000 square-foot indoor water park, 150,000 square feet of sports and entertainment retail, 30,000 square feet of office space, an amphitheater and numerous residential communities.