As We See It

Vegas Extreme Park set for the south Strip

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A cyclist rides over rocks by the Bootleg Canyon Flightlinez Zip-Line during Interbike’s outdoor demonstration day at Bootleg Canyon in Boulder City Monday, Sept. 14, 2015.
Photo: Steve Marcus

The word “extreme” gets tossed around. But no doubt, it applies to zipline coasters. “They actually go sideways and up and down. ... You can swing your body, and the whole apparatus of the line shakes and moves, so it feels like you’re floating in air and flying,” Josh Kearney says. The Australian engineer and entrepreneur just announced that his Vegas Extreme Park concept has “finally found its home” on a 90-acre, Strip-fronting plot across from Town Square. And the fantasy of wild flight is one of about a dozen action-sports attractions on deck.

Kearney's vision has more than doubled in acreage since he announced it in 2013, when VEGAS INC reported that he needed to pin down financing and land in order to move beyond “lofty dreams and artists’ renderings.” The following fall, the Las Vegas Sun included the project in a roundup of “the Vegas that never happened,” asserting that it remained in “dream phase.”

But today, Kearney says the site and funding have been secured. “It’s definitely not a pie-in-the-sky thing. It’s something that’s going to happen.”

Having begun the permitting process for the $60 million park, he says it will develop in phases, the first of which could be ready for a soft-opening this coming winter. It would be the dirt tracks designed for mountain bikes, motorcycles and off-road karts. The plan boasts other wheeled fun, with ramps for skateboarding and BMX, plus towers kitted out for ziplining and rock climbing (and the occasional “Batman dive”), and high-tech water features for wakeboarding, rafting, surfing and more. Even indoor skydiving is in the mix. “There’s cable-wakeboarding parks all over America, there’s dirt-bike tracks, there’s indoor-skydiving places, there’s surf parks, all that sort of stuff. It’s just never been really put all in one giant place,” says Kearney, who's applying the extremeness to sustainability goals as well.

An Indiegogo page for Vegas Extreme Park's season-pass pre-sale (more on that later) says the facility aims to meet 100 percent of its energy needs with renewables like wind and solar. Existing buildings on the site will be retrofitted, and recycled shipping containers will round out the structural landscape. In place of bottled water, there'll be stations for the chilled, filtered stuff. And the dirt bikes and karts will be electric. If you don't find that sexy, fear not. The park design includes a giant poolclub, and Kearney says restaurants and entertainment will be sprinkled throughout. But adrenaline-driven thrills are the thing, whether patrons experience them or watch demos by pros on staff.

A surfer himself, Kearney says the science behind the lake is "quite fantastic," as it can shape and focus waves to the specifications of each rider. Those specs will be sensed through a pre-programmed RFID bracelet, so as soon as you step in, the lake's tech knows to spit perfect, right-handed 8-footers mimicking Tahiti’s Teahupo’o. “When you go to a normal theme park, it’s all controlled; you get on a roller coaster, you sit on a seat. You get that same identical experience over and over and over again. When you come to my park, the experience is dependent on you, and your skill level, obviously," he says. "If you come more, your skills could get better."

It's in that vein that Vegas Extreme Park is marketing season passes, valued at $5,000 but offered for $500 to the first 1,000 people who sign up through Indiegogo (March 13 is the cutoff). Otherwise, general admission will be $250 for “unlimited everything” all day, gear included, with single attractions available à la carte. Kearney likens the season pass to a supercharged gym membership. He says selling them on Indiegogo isn't about raising money for the multimillion-dollar endeavor, which makes sense, as the campaign's goal is only $5,000. He's raising awareness and painting a pretty awesome picture. Despite the scope of it, he says he's not a dreamer.

"It’s serious. It’s like a gazillion dollars I’m putting on the line, for Vegas," Kearney says. If the park is going to work anywhere, he believes it's here. And in the spirit of extreme sports, he's committed to the jump.

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Erin got her first newspaper job in 2002 thanks to a campfire story about Bigfoot. In her award-winning work for ...

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