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THEME PARKS


The San Antonio Scorpions FC and STAR soccer both convey their net profits to Morgan’s Wonderland to defray operating expenses


Under the umbrella of SOAR are two business entities – Morgan’s Wonderland and the STAR (South Texas Area Regional) Soccer Complex. “San Antonio is a very strong soccer city, but we hadn’t been putting any money into soccer facilities,” Hartman explains. “I wanted to do something for the community and bring some funding in.” The land was split into two parcels, with 25 acres set aside for a theme park that was designed for the special needs community and the rest for a first-class soccer complex featuring 13 full-size soccer fields. The playing fields are rented out for tournaments and league play to provide income for the operating costs at non-profit Morgan’s Wonderland. Buoyed by the popularity of STAR


Soccer, Hartman launched a community- wide campaign -- Soccer for a Cause -- to bring professional soccer to San Antonio. This led to the creation of the San Antonio Scorpions FC of the North American Soccer League. Because of the Scorpions’ success and fan enthusiasm, an 8,000-


seat multi-purpose stadium – expandable in two further stages to 18,000 seats – has been built for the 2013 soccer season, outdoor concerts and other special events. Like STAR Soccer, the Scorpions convey all net profits to Morgan’s Wonderland to defray operating expenses and to expand programmes and services for the special needs community. “This is the very first professional team to be created for the expressed purpose of benefitting a cause rather than an investor,” Hartman said. In August, Toyota announced sponsorships of both Morgan’s Wonderland and the Scorpions’ new stadium, now known as Toyota Field.


RESEARCH To learn what others would like in the park, Hartman held numerous forums for people with special needs, caregivers, doctors, therapists and family members. Hundreds of people came and it resulted in two particular elements being highlighted. The first was for a very safe environment, so


visitors who have special needs could play and do things on their own. Consequently, the park has one entry and exit point, where visitors get an RFID wristband. Location station monitors throughout the park enable visitors to see where another member of their group is by scanning their own wristband and children cannot leave the park without the person they arrived with. Guaranteeing safety and security gives caregivers peace of mind so they can also relax and enjoy themselves. The second request was for a casual


environment without the crowds that parks usually have. This is to ensure special needs visitors who are uncomfortable in stimulating situations could enjoy themselves. To achieve this, the park has a policy of closing the gates to avoid too many guests. It can hold 5,000, but the maximum allowed is 1,500. “It’s not about the number of tickets I sell; it’s the quality of experience guests have while they’re here,” says Hartman. “It sounds counter productive, but that’s not what we’re about.”


154 LEISURE HANDBOOK 2014


www.leisurehandbook.com


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