Arizona State Parks has hired a consultant to explore whether a single concessionaire for all 30 state parks would save money, offsetting several years of deep budget reductions.
CHM Government Services will spend the next three months analyzing legal and business aspects of Arizona's state parks to determine if a massive contract with one concessionaire is possible and feasible.
State parks Executive Director Bryan Martyn said no other state has a sole concessions contract and if it can work in Arizona it might become a model for other states.
"We could change the way parks are run in the country and, theoretically, we could change the way parks are run around the world," Martyn said.
He said there are currently concessionaires operating in seven of the state's parks. They typically run gift shops, rental businesses, restaurants and other services that the parks do not have the expertise, staff or funds to operate.
Martyn said revenue reductions from the state in recent years have made it imperative that parks start to look at such options.
The Arizona Office of the Auditor General reported in September that the parks had $25.7 million in revenues in fiscal 2012, down from $54.7 million in fiscal 2008.
The report recommended that parks assess and, if necessary, modify how they bring in revenue. It also said they should continue and expand partnerships with private and local government organizations.
If everything falls into place, Martyn said Arizona State Parks could request bids in as little as six months from the handful of concessionaires in the country who could handle working with all the parks.
Because Arizona would be the first to try such a system, Martyn said the state would get a "smoking deal" from bidders.