Not Everyone Is Happy About the Palm Springs Surf Club Relaunch

People are still more than willing to pay for barrels like this. Photo: PSSC

The Inertia

What’s going on at Southern California’s first wave pool? Since the grand opening of the Palm Springs Surf Club (PSSC) back in January, the pool has spent more time closed than open. Twice now it’s been shuttered due to undisclosed operational issues, leaving some customers frazzled.

We’re not rooting for PSSC to fail. But the radio silence is puzzling, tough to defend even, from paid clientele waiting to surf the pool through these closures. But we digress. Truth is, a wave pool in Southern California seems like a fit. It’s hard to believe there isn’t one open already – we’re in the middle of a wave-pool revolution and SoCal is the center of surf culture.

Given that PSSC has not responded to multiple calls, I put my ear to the Coachella Valley floor to listen for rumblings. I received a few tidbits from a well-placed source.

The first aspect of the problems PSSC has faced have had to do with  “retrofitting into the existing facility, and (the) pre-existing civil infrastructure,” said my insider.” That means trying to make new tech fit with an old structure. It’s gotta be tough.

“The second problem is how the team delivered the project – or how the owners and their controlling investor(s) negotiated responsibilities between the array of contractors involved in delivering a complex project like this. You always want one throat to choke, and that situation may not have existed in this case,” my source tells me.

Another huge aspect comes down to financial forecasting. My sources are saying – and common sense says the same thing – you can never forecast for massive breakdowns like this. It would put anyone in a serious hole. So now, the business is left to figure out how to dig out of that hole: they have to fund repairs, and make up for five months of unforeseen lost revenue.

“This venue pencils out narrowly with a low volume of surfers per hour on this size of pneumatic surf pool,” the source said. “Their actual utilization rate of the wave is likely a lot lower than what their financial models were set at to attract the funding to build the project.” Yikes.

Things don’t seem entirely shiny down the road either. The PSSC is definitely in a tough spot all of us want to see it dig out of. There could be legal ramifications, a struggle to hit numbers, more anticipated costs and less revenue? Or, the PSSC could hit its stride and get fantastic support from a Southern California surf community eager to see it succeed. Let’s hope for the latter.


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