Rough waves ahead for stadium

Jack Hodge from Penrith Whitewater Stadium. Photo: Megan Dunn
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At a time when tourism is more crucial to Penrith than ever, one of our biggest attractions is showing signs of struggle.

Penrith Whitewater Stadium’s annual report ending June 2015 was presented to Penrith Council on Monday night, with some alarming figures.

Revenue for the stadium has dropped 18 per cent since 2014 from $1.6 million to $1.3 million, impacted by reduced patronage, electricity usage, and a big spend on marketing.

Jack Hodge, Penrith Whitewater Stadium Manager, said overall participation in activities at the stadium decreased, but it was the 11 per cent drop in rafting that hit the hardest.

“Rafting is what earns us most of our money, so it makes a big difference to our profitability,” he said.

The stadium also saw a huge drop in canoe/kayak activities of 58 per cent, but an increase in the number of rescue courses by five per cent.

Mr Hodge said over the cooler months, the stadium shuts off power to save money, but that too comes at a cost.

“We lose business because of that, but we save $30,000 a month,” he said.

“The cost of electricity is an issue, and this year being an Olympic year we expect electricity will cost us more as more people come out to train.”

The stadium invested 165 per cent more in marketing than the year before, with little effect.

“We spent a lot more money last year on marketing, but unfortunately it didn’t do as much as we would have liked,” Mr Hodge said.

Deputy Mayor and Penrith Whitewater Stadium Chairman, Ross Fowler, said despite the poor economic conditions, the patronage remains healthy.

“Unfortunately the financial results aren’t as good as what we expected them to be, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t getting results for Penrith,” he said.

“The stadium has put Penrith on the map internationally, bringing money into our community when people train.”

Councillor Kevin Crameri called on the State Government to help.

“It’s more than a regional asset, it’s a State asset, and we should be pushing it with our state members,” he said.

Currently, Penrith Whitewater Stadium receives no direct subsidy from Council.

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