Aquatic Center boasts 200 daily visitors in first season

Area patrons eagerly dove into the newly built Sabetha Aquatic Center this past summer, and numbers prove that it was a popular place to spend summer days.

Although 2017 admission and season pass revenue was significantly higher than 2016 — $53,948.75 to $7,996.50 — the Sabetha Aquatic Center did experience a net loss on the season of $37,712.65. The loss was not unexpected, said Sabetha Parks and Recreation Director Jeremy Haverkamp. In comparison, the 2016 loss was just $10,073.90.

“The loss was expected this year,” he said. “The biggest items are wages and utilities.”


The Center opened its doors for its first season on Saturday, May 27, and closed on Saturday, Sept. 17. In the span of that 105 days, the Center’s total revenue was $83,094. This is $62,923.65, more than triple the revenue of $20,170.35 in 2016.

More than half of the total revenue in 2017 can be attributed to admissions and season passes — $31,725.75 and $22,223, respectively. Other revenue is as follows: swim lessons, $8,902; aerobics and lap swim, $1,642; and concession sales, $18,601.25. The revenue for the Center was projected to be $78,000 per year.

Aquatic Center Manager Loretta Buser thought the first season went exceptionally well and credits the success to her assistant manager Kelli Stallbaumer and the lifeguard staff.

Buser said the average number of daily patrons was approximately 200 — most of those coming from other communities.

Buser estimated about 60 percent of swimmers were from out of town, and 40 percent from Sabetha.


A bigger pool means bigger expenses. The Center’s 2017 expenses are nearly quadruple that of the 2016 season of the Sabetha pool. With expenses totaling $120,806.54 in 2017 to $30,244.25 in 2016, the Center did experience a significant loss in comparison. Net loss for 2017 was $37,712.65 to 2016’s $10,073.90.

Employee wages ate up most of the expenses. During peak times, 10 lifeguards were on duty — to cover the pool and concessions. The price tag for wages was $83,507.58 on the year.

This dollar figure did not exceed expectations. The company that designed the Sabetha Aquatic Center — Water’s Edge Aquatic Design — estimated that the Center’s approximate expenses would be $98,000 with 60 percent attributed to wages. That estimate was based on a season of 95 days.

Other expenses included the following: pool chemicals, $5,744.31; MARKAN (concessions), $8,818.73; Kansas Gas, $10,163.92; city utilities (electrical), $9,830; and city utilities (water), $2,712.

“Going into the first year and not knowing what to expect daily for attendance, we wanted to be safe and have the maximum amount of guards on staff,” Haverkamp said. “At most times, it was necessary to have 10 to 12 guards on duty to safely have all areas of the pool covered.”

Haverkamp also said it was important to have the water temperature at a comfortable level throughout the season, so that accounts for some of the utility expense.

Moving Forward

“Moving forward, it would be expected that attendance would begin to level out, and we will have a better idea on what is necessary to safely staff the pool,” Haverkamp said. “Also, we will try to do a better job of lowering utility costs where and when we can.”

Overall, there are many costs associated with operating a pool and with time and experience, Haverkamp said, the city will try to get better at managing those costs with the new facility.


• Average number of daily patrons was approximately 200.

• Average number of weekly water aerobics patrons was 18.

• Hottest water temperature was 87 degrees.

• Lifeguards performed 45 water rescues.

• The wet bubble was the most popular feature.

• 33 lifeguards on staff — 23 girls and 10 boys.

• Average number of morning lap swimmers was 8.

• Lifeguards taught 230 kids swim lessons.

• There were 241 swim/aerobics passes sold.

• Patrons who came from the furthest distance were from the Netherlands.

• Most popular concession stand candy item were Airhead Extremes.

• Sold 16 gallons of dill pickles in the concession stand.


Krista Wasinger69 Posts

Krista Wasinger is Co-Editor of The Sabetha Herald, where she has been on staff since 2011. She specializes in city reporting and feature stories, as well as photography and page and advertising design. Krista is a 2004 Fort Hays State University graduate with a degree in communications studies with an emphasis in journalism. She lives in Sabetha with her husband and four children.


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