Sea World Firming Plans for Ski Show


With approval for a $4.5-million plan to convert a former dolphin lagoon into a water-ski arena, San Diego Sea World marine park officials are debating a final issue: the theme of the ski shows.

"There are several suggestions under consideration," Sea World spokesman Fred Jacobs said.

The shows will resemble water-ski productions at Sea World parks in Florida, Ohio and Texas, but there will be differences because of the configurations of the dolphin pool, Jacobs said.

The water-ski arenas at Sea World's other parks are relatively large, with enough room for the skiers to perform stunts that need long straightaways to gather speed, he said.

The San Diego arena has an island that will limit some stunts and require skiers to perform tight turns, but the shows will be just as exciting, he said.

The water-ski shows will replace the high-diving shows and other seasonal performances at the lagoon.

High-diving will continue until construction and reconfiguration work on the pool and surrounding area begin in early October. The water-ski shows are scheduled to debut on Memorial Day weekend. The arena is along the Mission Bay shoreline at the park.

The high-divers performed under a contract, but the water-skiers will be added as full-time employees to Sea World's 2,000 year-round work force.

The California Coastal Commission on Aug. 7 unanimously approved a coastal permit for Sea World to reconfigure the lagoon.

The plan includes dredging parts of the lagoon and adjacent area, increasing the stadium's seating capacity from 3,000 to 4,000, reducing the size of the island in the lagoon, and adding restrooms, a gift shop and other features.

According to the permit, Sea World must inventory and map eelgrass beds in the construction area and transplant any eelgrass that is disturbed.

Dredge material must be used to replenish beach areas where suitable. The dredge material also can be distributed on the bottom of the bay to foster the growth of eelgrass or spread over unpaved Sea World parking lots.

Sea World officials, who have completed the project's design and engineering plans, have wanted to add a water-ski show to its 135-acre San Diego facility for many years.

The lagoon, one of Sea World's oldest stadiums, was used until last year as the site for the park's dolphin shows. The dolphins were moved to the old Shamu Stadium.

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