Imagine three of these gems rifling off simultaneously for you and your closest pals to enjoy? Photo: Stab/Matt Kurvin
Three Pools, 50 People A Day, On-Site Camping, and Room For 8,000 Fans
The World Surf League has grand plans for Lemoore, California.
The World Surf League has grand plans for Lemoore, California.
The development will take place in three stages over the next eight years, and will include the addition of two new "prototype wave generation systems," camping sites and recreational vehicle parking, "up to six portable temporary lodging units for guests," and parking sufficient for 8000 visitors.
Seven proposed structures will occupy 10,000 square feet and up to two-stories. They include:
Wave Operations Building - Building houses administrative program for support of wave operations functions, inclusive of offices, conference rooms, and event space.
High Performance Training Center - Facility include training rooms, lockers, offices, as well as equipment storage.
Surf Operations House - In support of surf related activities, the Surf Operations House includes a commercial kitchen component, lockers, storage, as well as public interfacing gathering spaces.
Multi-purpose Recreational Facility - The facility houses large flexible program which support the commercial activities related to Wave and - Surf Operations, in addition to back of house programmatic elements.
Wave Support Facility - Required building which houses equipment related to the operation of the Wave-Generating Machine.
We doubt we're alone in looking forward to more of Miss Gilmore's elegant act in the pool.
The planned wave park will operate year-round, and expects to see a regular attendance of up to 50 guests each day.
In addition to the construction onsite, the WSL received permits to host up to six events per year, each with an estimated attendance of up to 8,000 individuals.
Attendance numbers at the Founders' Cup, slated to run May 5th and 6th, are projected to be slightly lower. The WSL expects a mere 5,000 guests to attend. It's a number which might seem optimistic at first glance, due to Lemoore's remote location and a current lack of infrastructure (eg. at this time local parking is non-existent—spectators will be directed to either the Tachi Palace Casino, or nearby West Hills College, to be delivered to the event site via shuttle).
Those of us who grew up in California tend to share a mental image of Central California that falls far afield of the somewhat more rosy perspective embodied in Steinbeck's novels. Sure, it's the bread basket of the United States, providing an out-sized portion of the produce consumed by most Americans and a large portion of the rest of the world, but it's still Fresno.
Development of the new park will take place in three stages over the next eight years and will include an additional two "prototype wave generation systems," camp sites and recreational vehicle parking, "up to six portable temporary lodging units for guests," parking sufficient for 8000 visitors, as well as:
To most California residents the prospect of a trip to Fresno earns a well-deserved shudder. Those less familiar with the state's geography would do well to watch this 2009 BBC documentary.
To call Lemoore inconveniently located, from a surfer's perspective, would be an understatement. Barring traffic, a commute north from Los Angeles will run 3 1/2- 4 hours each way. From SF or Santa Cruz, add another hour. And it's not a particularly scenic drive.
Nevertheless, spirits within the WSL are running high. Though Dave Prodan, Senior Vice President of Global Brand Identity at the WSL, did not return requests for comment, fortunately, another WSL employee was more willing to share their thoughts.
"The WSL is expecting a big turn out, hopefully all tickets will sell. It’s really uncharted territory, obviously," they told me. "I haven’t looked into the logistics of where to stay, but there’s a lot of hype around the pool. I’d be surprised if they didn’t get 5000."
Indeed, it seems that local accommodations are booked solid. The nearby Tachi Palace, Motel 6, Best Western, and Travelodge are all at full capacity for the weekend.
I called hotels to see if I could learn local reaction to event, as well as information about the area.
The friendly clerk who answered the phone at the Lemoore Motel Six asked that we not use their name.
"At this moment, I'm not going," she said. "I talked to a few people and they were kind of excited. But I guess it depends on the person, if they're interested in that kind of event. But it's something new and a lot of people are curious about the event. Hopefully a lot of people will be interested to go.'
"You know what? This is the best spot, here in Lemoore. Because it's in the middle. If the surfers are are gonna be coming from down south or up north, this is the best location. When I first moved here that's what I realized. We're in the middle, in the Central Valley. I believe it's the best location for that kind of event."
Another kind human answered my call, at the Lemoore Best Western, and painted a warm and welcoming picture of the local community.
"It's great that we're having something that big around here," the woman said. "There's usually nothing going on. I don't really know much about surfing, but we are excited to have that in town. I don't know of anybody who's going to the surfing contest. I just don't have any friends, or know anybody, who knows about surfing.'
"I love it here. There isn't much to do, so something like this is really huge out here. It's a small town so outside of our casino that's really about it.'
"I think we're a really good community. It's going to be difficult [to accommodate 5000 people], but it's more than possible."
Sarah Turpin, a bubbly and helpful woman who works the front desk at the local Travelodge and lives close enough to Slater's pool to "throw a rock and almost hit it," is excited about the prospect of future events.
"I don't really know much about it," she said. "I kind of mind my own business. But I've read an article about it in the newspaper and I heard it's doing great things over there. Awesome stuff. I do know that our hotel is sold out for that event. We started getting calls about it last December. There were some people that made several reservations. I don't know if they are photographers, or something, but they knew about it before tickets were announced. The guys I talked to specifically said that they were coming for it. It might've been somebody with the inside scoop.'
"I would like to go, but I'll probably be working at the hotel that day, because it's so busy. But I can't wait to hear about it. Maybe next year...'
"Five thousand people is a lot of people. That's, like, half the town of Lemoore. But, in Lemoore, we can handle anything. We're not a quitting kind of town, or sit down and let other people take over. We don't do that in Lemoore. But we're very accommodating, a very friendly kind of town. Very welcoming. I think that we'll be able to handle it.'
"For the restaurants and stuff like that, it'll be great. The people who come to the town will be given excellent service. I think it'll be a successful event. Not only there, but as far as the community is concerned.'
"I know that some high school buddies, they're always talking about how awesome it is, and they go to beach all the time to go surfing. Now you won't need to spend as much money, or travel, to experience that. Not only that, but it'll be awesome for the kids growing up here in Lemoore. Something for them to do. Because we've never really had anything to do in Lemoore. We have a movie theater now, but not, like, activity-wise. Get them outside, get a little dirty kind of thing. I think it's gonna be amazing and I think that the people of Lemoore will be very open to learning how to surf, or trying it for fun."
Ms. Turpin's comments raise an interesting point: the local community is going to be very interested in joining in on the fun.
While it's unlikely that the wave park will ever be available at a pricepoint that could be considered inexpensive, one hopes there will be affordable options for local residents. Community relations can sour when people realize they're stuck forever playing host, without ever being invited to join in the fun.