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WEATHER DOUSES OUTDOOR BUSINESSES

"Rain, rain go away. Come again some other day" is what many employees of theme parks and golf courses in the Salt Lake area are saying.

Disappointed by the rainy weather of the past few days, many say that their outdoor businesses are not up to par financially.Brent Meeke, an employee of Glenmoor Golf Course in South Jordan, said due to the rainy weather, "business is brutal. The golf courses are in good shape, but no one plays them."

He said because of poor turnout on rainy days, Glenmoor's lost revenue will equal about 10 times what it costs to water the lawns.

Dick Kramer, a professional at Bonneville Municipal Golf Course in Salt Lake City, agrees with Meeke and said the rain "actually kills us. It harms business so much it can't be made up." Golf play at Bonneville is down about 30 percent because of the unpredictable weather.

Meeke said about eight people played golf Thursday morning despite the rain but "those are people that would play in a snowstorm."

Brad Jacobs, general manager and part owner of Raging Waters, said the rain has affected business tremendously. He said the park's grand opening on May 25 was rained out, which is not uncommon. During each of the past four years, it has either rained or snowed on grand opening day.

In stormy weather, "our policy is to remain open unless lightning comes within three miles of the park. If lightning comes within the boundaries, we'll shut operations and wait for the storm to pass."

Jacobs noted that rain checks are given on days the park has to shut down because of bad weather.

Lagoon's director of marketing, Dick Andrew, tried joking about the rainy weather by saying the rain is keeping the lawns green, when in actuality the rain is hampering the park's business.

"The stormy weather is having a profound effect. We're living in a desert, so we're not used to rainy weather, and when do we get rain people don't do outside things. Unfortunately, we've been waiting for three months for the rain to stop."

Andrew said Lagoon relies heavily on preorganized groups that visit the amusement park. Luckily, they come regardless of the weather. He said if owners relied on drop-in business alone, the park wouldn't be able to make it financially.

Paul Mix, general manager for Seven Peaks Resort in Provo, said weather is critical for the water park business. Although he thinks the recent weather "is the pits," he said he learned a long time ago not to stress out about the weather because "there's nothing anyone can do about it."

The water park has been closed for the past couple of days because of the weather, but Mix said as long as it gets hot soon he won't complain.

Hogle Zoo Director LaMar Farnsworth said the zoo has had 50,000 fewer visitors during the spring this year than last year as a result of the weather.

Although the figure is discouraging compared to attendance for the past two years, the number is comparable to three years ago. Farnsworth attributed the high attendance during the past two years to the dry summers Utah experienced.

"I can take a rainy day on Wednesday, but give me a rainy day on the weekend and I cry," the director lamented.

All interviewed expressed hopes that the weather would soon clear up so people will start taking advantage of the various outdoor opportunities that the Salt Lake area offers.

"Let's all pray for good weather," Mix said.