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Water slides, a lazy river, 3 pools: Elk Grove opens long-awaited aquatics center

Elk Grove’s long-awaited aquatics center is set to open Memorial Day weekend, with city officials hoping an Olympic-size pool and recreational water features will support local aquatics teams and attract swimmers from across the Sacramento region.

The $42 million aquatics center at 9701 Big Horn Blvd. includes a 50-meter length pool with diving boards, a recreation pool and an instructional pool, as well as a lazy river, water slides and a cafe.

Saturday’s opening to the public marks the end of a more than decade-long journey for the aquatics center, which was originally proposed as a response to an increasing need for competition-ready pools in the growing suburban city.

“There a lot of youth sports in the region, and not just soccer,” said city spokeswoman Kristyn Laurence. “(We) heard from our aquatic competitive teams that the demand for more water was extremely high,” with local teams frequently competing in other cities, and traveling as far out as Stanford or Redding.

But the aquatics center’s construction had been stalled for years, despite early plans for development drawn up in 2006, and amenities approved by Elk Grove City Council in 2011.

Elk Grove sued a previous contractor for the project in 2015, alleging it falsely represented its credentials to build the center and failed to uphold its contract agreement.

A new opening day target was set for May 2018 after the city hired a new contractor, Arntz Builders Inc., but that deadline was also missed. Poor winter weather was partially responsible for the delays, Laurence said.

The cost has also fluctuated. After initial plans to build a water park were cut to bring a $56 million price tag down to $17 million, costs have since ballooned. The Bee last reported in 2017 that the aquatics center would cost $31 million.

“There were some much larger plans envisioned, like a water park and larger diving platforms that, when evaluated, it was not penciling out,” Laurence said. “What you see now is a reimagined version, still managing some of the interests that would draw visitors, but it’s a more modest proposal.”

The center can accommodate 1,500 swimmers and about 2,500 spectators at maximum capacity, Laurence said. It’s expected to attract 36,000 visitors annually, according to previously released city staff projections.

“This is what we’ve been working on for the last nine years, so come on by and enjoy it,” Mayor Steve Ly said in a Facebook post earlier this month.

The aquatics center is part of the first phase of a 76-acre, multimillion-dollar public services hub at the corner of Civic Center Drive and Big Horn Boulevard that will eventually include a library, a museum, botanical gardens and a community center that is home to a senior center and veterans hall.

The community center is expected to open this September, Laurence said.

What you need to know about the aquatics center

  • On Saturday, May 25, visitors can swim for free 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the grand opening.
  • The aquatics center is located at 9701 Big Horn Blvd.
  • The daily swim rate is $7, a monthly membership is $55, and summer passes are $90 after June. (There are some discounts for young swimmers and Laguna Ridge residents who live near the pools.)
  • The pools will be open to the public from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, and year-round for aquatics classes and competitive swimming.
  • Though owned by Elk Grove, the aquatics center will be managed by the Cosumnes Community Services District. For more information, visit their website, https://www.yourcsd.com/.
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