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Olympics leader Welch buys into Nevada water park

Published August 30, 2013 1:48 pm

Investment • Bid boss shoring up financing for friend who runs a water park in Draper.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Former Salt Lake City Olympics leader Tom Welch has come to the rescue of a financially troubled water park in suburban Las Vegas.

Welch, now living in Park City, became a major investor in Cowabunga Bay Water Park in Henderson after its ownership team had difficulty securing the financing needed to complete the $23 million project. The park will feature a 33,000-square-foot wave pool, water slides, a lazy-flowing river and a multi-lane racing slide — all within a 1960s beach theme.

"It's really an interesting project," said Welch, noting he has several business projects in the works but is a newcomer to the world of water parks. "I don't plan on playing a day-to-day role in the business. The people who will run it are operators. They know what they're doing."

He was referring to an old friend, Shane Huish, who is general manager of Cowabunga Bay Water Park in Draper. Huish's family also operates Family Fun Centers in Washington and Oregon.

Huish was developing the park along with investors whose lengthy effort to raise money did not pan out, Welch said, leaving the 23-acre site partially under construction. A planned opening over Memorial Day was delayed until spring of 2014 and Huish turned to Welch for assistance.

"I put together Henderson Water Park LLC," Welch said, "and we're proceeding to assemble financing to pay off creditors and vendors and to get the park open."

Huish declined to discuss terms of the investment because "a lot of contracts still have to be signed. We're just restructuring the partnership so we can continue. It's all happening for the better of the project."

Purchased last September, the park property cost Huish and his original partners $4.6 million. Citing Clark County, Nev. court records, The Las Vegas Sun said Welch bought in for closer to $2.3 million. Huish said that amount was not accurate.

"We're getting value for it because we got the land and the equipment," Welch said.

Welch led Salt Lake City's long-running and ultimately successful bid to stage the Winter Olympics and was the Salt Lake Organizing Committee's first president.


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