Alex and Andy Crow stop to talk between swimming laps at the Kingsport Aquatic Center Friday. David Grace photo.
KINGSPORT — In just under six weeks, the Kingsport Aquatic Center has hosted more than 50,000 visits, averaging about 1,200 guests each day in June.
The center — located behind the Cattails driving range off Wilcox Drive — is a 46,000-square-foot facility with three indoor pools (competition, warm water and children’s) and an outdoor water park with a 900-foot lazy river and leisure pool with two curvy water slides. Adjacent to the facility is the new YMCA Wellmont Center.
City officials said the aquatic center has hosted more than 31,000 visits from one-day guests, season pass holders and patrons with annual memberships since opening May 17. In addition, more than 19,000 visits to the aquatic center have been logged by YMCA members, who have full access to the facility as part of their membership.
In addition to regular guests, the aquatic center has also hosted more than 40 birthday parties with an additional 35 on the books for July and August.
“We are thrilled by the enthusiasm and support we have received from the community,” said Chris McCartt, assistant to the city manager. “The Kingsport Aquatic Center has been packed almost every day with people experiencing our indoor and outdoor pools and attractions. Families come to our facility for a one-time visit and end up becoming aquatic center members to enjoy the facility year-round.”
McCartt said the aquatic center averaged 1,200 guests each day in June, with that number continuing to grow as the summer moves on. Due to the popularity of the facility — and about one week after opening — the Board of Mayor and Aldermen agreed with city staff that additional parking was necessary.
Crews have been working during the past month to increase the number of parking spaces by 78, from its current number of 300. The new spaces were scheduled to be ready before the Independence Day holiday weekend.
“This facility was built for the community to enjoy, and we are working hard to accommodate the huge response by adding more parking and offering shuttle service on peak days,” said McCartt. “It’s wonderful that so many people are so eager to experience the aquatic center.”
Earlier this year, the Times-News reported that the YMCA had seen a spike in its new memberships since December 2012, adding roughly 1,200 new members in about a five-month period. In comparison, Kingsport had only signed up about 50 members for the aquatic center by early May.
As of July 1, McCartt said more than 1,600 people have joined the aquatic center, both season pass holders and annual memberships.
“We’re having a very busy summer at the aquatic center,” said McCartt. “We’ve had a great first month, and this is just the beginning. I’m confident (the facility) will be the region’s choice for family fitness and fun for many years to come.”