The Economic Advantages of Bringing a Water Park to Fargo

Written by: Josiah Kopp

“The Wave by EPIC Water Park Resort… coming soon!”—As Fargo-Moorhead greatly anticipates the completion of North Dakota’s largest indoor water park, one might wonder what goes into making a project like this a possibility. When EPIC Companies first dreamed of bringing a water park to Fargo, they knew it needed one of the best experts in the industry to help bring that dream to fruition. That’s when EPIC teamed up with S & L Hospitality CEO Eric Lund, who is now helping shape one of Fargo’s biggest attractions ever.

With Eric Lund’s outstanding portfolio in both the hotel and water park industries in the Wisconsin Dells area, EPIC knew working with him on The Wave project was a sure fit for success. The Wisconsin-based CEO of S & L Hospitality has been in the hotel industry for 35 years and in the water park industry for 26 years; few understand the business better than Lund. As a founding partner in the Great Wolf Resorts chain as well as a franchise owner of many hotels (including Marriott, IHG, Choice Hotels, and more), Lund was in an optimal position to expand the destination water park experience to places beyond the Dells. Fast forward to today, and The Wave is part of Lund’s first big venture with EPIC Companies.

Eric Lund
CEO of S & L Hospitality and consultant behind the Wave by EPIC project

The latest renderings from EPIC Companies give a glimpse of what the exterior of The Wave will look like.

Reasons Fargo-Moorhead Businesses Should Be Excited

The Wave won’t just be North Dakota’s largest indoor water park, it will be a destination experience for all surrounding areas to visit—Fargo’s very own Disney World, if you will. This 50,000-square-foot indoor water park and 135-room hotel resort will drive traffic from all over the region, boosting Fargo’s already-impressive economic growth. One of the key features The Wave will implement into its stays to create more value is through bundle packages where wristbands are included in visitors’ stay to have access to the water park. This is a unique model that Lund has implemented into other projects in order to create more value for visitors while boosting local economic growth.

“What we found in every market where this was being introduced was that [everyone in the community] prospered and benefited,” Lund said.

With a destination resort like The Wave, driving traffic from neighboring states to Fargo will help put dollars into the state of North Dakota while also boosting Fargo’s occupancy tax. Local businesses like restaurants, retail stores, gas stations, and many others will benefit from increased traffic for restaurants, shopping, gas stations, and other local businesses. With Fargo having extreme seasons (especially in the winter), local businesses are in a position to help create attractions, events, and community activities for people—and The Wave is a perfect example of how Fargo will be able to keep the community engaged all year long. And since Fargo has a busy hotel market, The Wave by EPIC Water Park Resort will offer guest access pass for the public to utilize!

The Wave by EPIC Water Park Resort by the Numbers

• 7-Story, 135-room hotel
• Indoor waterpark with 50,000 square feet of net-play area
• Parking ramp with 500 stalls

Check out these past waterpark projects Lund has helped develop in states like IA, MI, PA, IL, and WI.

Why Fargo?

With water parks now spread across the nation, Lund and S & L Hospitality have proven a formula that works, creating destination experiences that will attract visitors year-round, making these sustainable projects from an economic standpoint. And with the ever-changing climate the Red River Valley brings, finding consistent family activities is a seasonal challenge since so many local recreational activities are weather dependent. The Wave is a great solution to that for two reasons:

  1. It provides a consistent activity that families can enjoy year-round.
  2. It brings in a steady stream of visitors to local
    retail, especially from Canada, further boosting local retail.

Placing North Dakota’s largest indoor water park in Fargo was no mistake; it was strategically placed to maximize regional reach from neighboring areas. “We’re generating a significant amount of room tax for the community, and that gets put back into the Chamber of Commerce and the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, which can help market and advertise for more people to come to the area,” Lund said. “And that just enhances every community; communities love to have these.”

Another important reason why this project is great for Fargo is because of the unique way EPIC Companies builds communities through their mixed-use developments. With all of the interactive elements EPIC creates through their projects, such as The Lights, there are unique opportunities to bundle packages, concert tickets, and more with the way EPIC is creating its own ecosystem of experiences.

Additionally, with the EPIC Companies’ involvement in charities, there will be unique charitable opportunities for providing experiences at The Wave for kids and families who may not otherwise have that opportunity. And as part of the American Disabilities Act, The Wave is inclusive and equipped in ways to support people with disabilities to still be able to enjoy all The Wave has to offer in a safe manner. This project isn’t just about boosting the local economy, it’s also about connecting the community through the experiences EPIC is creating.

Did you know?

The Wave by EPIC will be located at 2500 45th St S Fargo, next to the Tharaldson Baseball Park

Supporting Fargo’s Record-Low Unemployment Rate

One of the greatest hallmarks of the Fargo metro is the record-low unemployment rate, which ended 2022 at around 1.4%—the second lowest in the nation. Bringing a resort like The Wave to Fargo is going to further feed into those nation-leading trends.

Upon completion, The Wave will host approximately 130-160 employees year-round. Employment opportunities will include competitive 401K benefits and offer positions unique to Fargo-Moorhead, including year-round lifeguards, aquatic engineers, and educational opportunities for the kids club, plus all the other roles a resort requires. Some roles within the water park may even be titled “Ambassador of Fun,” as Lund put it.

For Lund, it’s an exciting venture to be a part of, and he’s excited to help bring something new and different to the Fargo-Moorhead area. “It kind of gives me the chills, kind of like when we opened up the first one in Sandusky in 2001,” Lund said. “That was the first one in the United States (Ohio) that opened up outside of the Wisconsin Dells, and no one believed that could happen.” Now, indoor water parks are proving to be successful all over the nation, and Lund is ecstatic to be pairing with a team like EPIC Companies on such an endeavor. “I’m just excited to be able to see all the smiling faces of families,” he said.

The other thing that local businesses can get excited about is that the return rate for repeat visitors is “tremendous” for developments like this, according to Lund. The Wave is not only going to be a jam-packed fun experience for the whole family, but it’s also going to stimulate economic growth for businesses in the community, continuing the already amazing trend of opportunity here in the Red River Valley. Stay tuned for the public groundbreaking ceremony to be held in August!

Did you know?

The Wave by EPIC Water Park Resort will be connected to a 135-room hotel named IM A G I N E by EPIC.

The latest renderings from EPIC Companies give a glimpse of what the interior of The Wave will look like.

Interested in investing or becoming a partner?

Share This Article
Josiah is an Editor and Photographer at Spotlight Media in Fargo.