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Great Wolf Lodge Preparing its Eleventh Resort for Opening in Concord, North Carolina;
$120 million Lodge Will Hire 500 "Pack Members"

By Josh McCann, Independent Tribune, Concord, N.C.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Dec. 4, 2008 - CONCORD -- Great Wolf Lodge officials expect the company's resort and indoor water park will be ready for a March 26 soft opening.

During a tour for invited guests and the news media on Wednesday, company officials showed off the $120 million family-focused, northwoods-themed project that is about 60 percent complete off Bruton Smith Boulevard.

The company -- which plans to hire about 500 employees or "pack members" -- also announced a job fair scheduled for Feb. 5-7 at nearby Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Concord Mayor Scott Padgett said he wore his Christmas tie for the tour because the resort's arrival felt like an early present after local leaders worked to lure the project for several years.

Concord agreed to provide $1.5 million in infrastructure work surrounding the project, which the company says is the first of its kind in the Southeast, and Cabarrus County approved a $2.6 million tax incentive grant.

"It went in the ditch several times, and now it's going to be a reality," Padgett told the assembled guests. "From a wide area, people are going to be coming here."

Tourism officials expect the resort, which broke ground in October of 2007, to generate about $1.3 million per year in occupancy tax revenue.

Many amenities will be open to the public, but the 80,000-square-foot water park will be open only to those staying in one of 402 suites in the four-story, 475,000-square-foot facility.

Standard rates will likely range from $179 to $529 for suites of six to eight, officials said.

Other features include:

--an additional outdoor water park;

--multiple dining options, including two themed family restaurants;

--upscale spa plus ice cream-themed kid spa;

--technology center for teens;

--MagiQuest, a live action fantasy adventure game;

--100-game arcade with ticket redemption center;

--children's craft and activity room;

--fitness center;

--themed 18-hole miniature golf course;

--gift emporium;

--20,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space; and

--technology that allows guests to enter rooms and pay for services using wristbands.

On Wednesday, the water park was devoid of water, but the signature "tornado" slide that will spin riders briefly outside the building's walls was in place.

The resort still had some plumbing and wiring exposed, and cylindrical space heaters provided hard hat-clad tourgoers with occasional blasts of warmth.

The Concord location will be the 11th Great Wolf Lodge. Others are in Grand Mound, Wash.; Grapevine, Texas; Kansas City, Kan.; Mason, Ohio; Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada; Scotrun, Pa.; Sandusky, Ohio; Traverse City, Mich.; Williamsburg, Va.; Wisconsin Dells, Wis.

Contact reporter Josh McCann: 704-789-9152.

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To see more of the Independent Tribune or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.independenttribune.com.

Copyright (c) 2008, Independent Tribune, Concord, N.C.

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