Some 20 years ago, Doug Coors was a surfing enthusiast without a wave to stand on in inland America.
In his mid-20s and living in Colorado, Coors picked up a design software program and devised a concept for a surf park, which had been popping up around the world.
“That thought has stayed in the back of my head,” Coors said.
On Thursday, he released it to the public. The massive NLand Surf Park, set to open in spring 2016 on Texas 71 in eastern Travis County, will flow entirely on beer money. Coors, the company’s CEO and a member of the famous brewing family, held a news conference at the Austin Club to formally announce his vision for North America’s first surf park.
The 160-acre facility will include 11 surf areas spanning the length of nine football fields, or roughly the size of Lady Bird Lake between the Congress Avenue and South First Street bridges. Coors would not reveal the price tag for the private initiative, revealing only that his family is paying “a boat load.” A concert venue is also being considered, but would not be part of the park’s initial construction.
Coors, 47, resides in Fort Collins, Colo., but has been living part time in Austin since October. He called the city a good fit because “it’s a town that really, really craves deployment of innovation and is very accepting of innovation.” Also, the city embraces health and fitness.
Coors quelled public concern about the park’s impact on the environment, noting that after the initial fill of the lagoon, patrons will be “surfing on raindrops.” Coors said research over the past eight years in Austin showed that even the driest years produced twice the amount of water needed to operate the park. Local landscape company Dwg has been commissioned to beautify the area.
“There’s quite a few surfers in Austin, and I’ve met them since I’ve been here,” Coors said.
A pricing model for customers has yet to be finalized, but Coors hinted that it will be tailored after a ski resort, where guests can pay anywhere from $70 to $100 for a day pass. He said he hopes to work out discounts for underprivileged youth.
The 11 surfing areas will feature four different levels ranging from beginner to pro, and waves will come in three sizes — one, four and six feet. Each hour, 300 distinct waves that never lose power or shape will be generated from technology engineered by the Spanish firm Wavegarden. Coors noted that the consistency with which the waves come roaring should ease the learning curve for a surfing neophyte.
A surf school will be in place employing instructors from all over the world.
“There won’t be any sharks or jellyfish, no seaweed or stingrays or rip currents to be worried about,” Coors said.
Susan Spataro, a member of the Travis County Precinct Four Economic Development Taskforce, said she hopes the park will strike a relationship with the nearby Del Valle school district.
If successful, Coors said he hopes to build additional parks around the country.
Most recently, Coors worked in technology development at CoorsTex when he reached what he described as a “crossroads” and was unsure of his future. He didn’t elaborate, but said the transition to his new pursuit “was almost like a miracle that I came out of it with the backing from my family to pursue my dreams.”