The Valley Family Fun Center, set to open late next year, could bring an economic boost to growing Wasilla.
The builder, Oregon businessman John Schwieger, is owner of the Coming Attractions Theaters chain, which operates 18 theaters in Northern California, Oregon and Washington state. Coming Attractions also owns the Valley Cinema in Wasilla. The Valley Family Fun Center will be constructed on five acres that Schwieger already owns adjacent to the Valley Cinema. Wasilla mayor Bert Cottle says negotiations have been going on for the better part of a year.
“We’re excited, you know, it’s expansion and economic development. That’s the direction we want to go, economic development,” Cottle says.
Cottle says the city welcomes the new facility, which is about half the size of the city’s Curtis Menard Sports Center in Wasilla. When completed, the Fun Center is expected to provide up to 50 local jobs.
“We hope he does real well, because we survive on sales tax. So this is a good thing. ”
Valley Fun Center owner, John Schwieger, speaking from Florida, says the complex will have numerous games and attractions, including an indoor track for racing carts. He says the lap times and driver skills will be monitored with an electric timing system used by NASCAR.
“This is something that is sweeping the nation now in popularity, and there are leagues being formed, and everything, and it will be outstanding. So what we are doing is bringing something brand new to the state of Alaska. ”
Other elements to the entertainment center will be laser tag, video games, and of cours food. There’ll be party rooms available to rent, too, Schweiger says. He calls it a “true entertainment city”.
According to Karston Rodvik, spokesperson for AIDEA, the six million dollar facility will be paid for through AIDEA’s Loan Participation Program. AIDEA is providing about 90 percent of the loan funding, or 5 point 4 million dollars.
“Our mission is to promote, develop and advance economic growth in the state of Alaska. And we do that by providing various means of financing an investment. One of our key programs, and a very longstanding, highly successful programs, is our loan participation program. We do this in partnership with Alaska’s banks. ”
Northrim Bank is providing a 600 thousand dollar loan for the project, according to Rodvik. The funding plan allows Northrim to originate the loan, and bring in AIDEA as a partner.
“The banks originate the loan, then they bring it to AIDEA. And we can purchase up to 90 percent of a loan, up to 20 million dollars, in order to advance business growth and economic development in Alaska. The most important benefit that AIDEA’s loan participation offers to businesses, is the long – term, fixed interest rate. “
AIDEA’s partnership with banks in the loan participation program has funded some highly visible entertainment projects, like The Bear Tooth Theater- Pub, and H2O water park in Anchorage, Pike’s Waterfront Lodge in Fairbanks and the Mt. Roberts Tram in Juneau. Rodvik says the Valley Family Fun Center could be another success.
“We believe that the ownership and the management of this has a proven track record of profitability, they got a strong management team, he’s gotsignificant strengths in his business experience in the entertainment related industry. We believe it will be a great assest to the Valley. ”
AIDEA’s Loan Participation program benefits borrowers by providing a 25 year fixed interest rate on a long term loan. AIDEA benefits in that participation increases the corporation’s portfolio, Rodvik says. AIDEA is a self supporting entity, which earns money through it’s investments and contributes an annual dividend to the state.