Event would bring more than $30 million to local economy
Civic and business leaders have stepped up with Mayor Alvin Brown in a call for community support, as Jacksonville seeks to host the 2016 US Swimming Olympic Trials. The event features the nation’s top swimmers to determine who will represent Team USA in Rio de Janeiro for the Games of the XXXI Olympiad.
Video: Mayor and City Leaders Announce Jacksonville's Bid for US Swimming Olympic Trials
“We are excited to be under consideration to host the 2016 US Swimming Olympic Trials,” said Mayor Alvin Brown. “As we’ve seen so many times in recent years, swimming is one of America’s strongest sports and hosting this event would make a major impact throughout our community. We would be proud to serve as a proving ground for these elite athletes, and I am confident in our city’s ability to help produce a program that would entertain and inspire thousands of fans. Jacksonville is an ideal destination for sporting events, and just like we’ve seen with the Jaguars, the Florida-Georgia game, the US Soccer exhibitions and many others, the Trials would be embraced by everyone in the community.”
Council President Bill Bishop, Council member Dr. Johnny Gaffney and Duval County Clerk of Courts Ronnie Fussell joined the mayor during Tuesday’s announcement about the bid. The event would be hosted at the Veterans Memorial Arena, and the preparations for the trials would be significant, including the construction of two new pools onsite. The overall seating capacity for the event would be approximately 10,000.
“This is one of the best sports and entertainment opportunities in amateur athletics our community has ever had,” said Jerry Mallot, President of the JAXUSA Partnership and Interim CEO of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce. “This would be a fabulous win for our city and put us on the map not just nationally, but internationally for hosting major events.”
Creating the vision of this major event has been a collaboration between the staff at the City of Jacksonville, SMG, Visit Jacksonville and the Chamber of Commerce. The event would generate more than 26,000 hotel room stays over the course of the eight-day competition.
“We are pleased to be partnering with SMG and the City to bring not only a major national championship, but the eyes of the entire country, to focus on our great city for the 2016 Trials, said Paul Astleford, president and CEO of Visit Jacksonville. “Having an event like this will transform Jacksonville, bringing in over 200,000 visitors from around the country who will leave an estimated $7 million economic impact in hotel and motel revenue.”
The bid process will continue in the coming months, as USA Swimming will first name the finalists that will receive a site visit before the final decision is made this summer.
"The city of Jacksonville has a long tradition of developing Olympic swimmers and I personally believe that there is no better city in the USA than Jacksonville to host the 2016 US Olympic Trials,” said Sergio López, the current Bolles School head swim coach and former Olympic swimmer and coach. “The Jacksonville swimming tradition, the love of our citizens for sports, our beautiful river and beach settings along with our sports facilities will make the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials the best ever done. This event would have a profound impact in making Jacksonville the sports city destination of the South."
The other cities in contention for the Olympic trials include: Greensboro, N.C., Indianapolis, Ind., Omaha, Neb., St. Louis, Mo. and San Antonio, Texas
“To host the Olympic trials in any sport is a major undertaking and this is no different,” said Alan Verlander, executive director of Sports & Entertainment for the City of Jacksonville. “We feel that as the committee deliberates over the various opportunities that they will see what we know – that Jacksonville is an ideal place to host this event.”
For more information about events and opportunities through Jacksonville’s Office of Sports and Entertainment, visit http://www.coj.net/departments/office-of-economic-development/sports-and-entertainment.aspx
2016 US Swimming Trials Frequently Asked Questions
What is the estimated economic impact of the trials coming to Jacksonville?
In Omaha in 2008, the economic impact was $29.1 million. Numbers for 2012 aren’t available, but more than 164,000 tickets were sold for the eight-day trials.
How many hotel room nights are included in this event?
Approximately 26,000 hotel room nights will be needed for visitors to the host city.
There isn’t a pool in the Arena. How is this going to work?
This will be the third straight trials held indoors with an Olympic-size pool being built at the site. USA Swimming has contracted with Myrtha Pools on the construction of two pools – one for competition and another for warm-ups and practice. The pool construction will start six weeks before the event.
A pool built for only six weeks of use? Are there any other events in conjunction with this?
Yes. Prior to the trials, there will be a test event that will feature some of the top swimmers in the country testing the pool system.
What happens to the pools after the Trials?
Myrtha Pools will break one of the pools down and return with it. The other pool will be sold. For the 2008 trials, Omaha had their practice pool sold prior to the event.
Who is involved in Jacksonville’s bid?
The bid to bring the trials to Jacksonville is a team effort that includes civic and business leaders supporting the Mayor’s vision of bringing major sporting events to Jacksonville. The City of Jacksonville Sports & Entertainment division, Visit Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce are working hand-in-hand to secure the event, with SMG staff helping with venue planning and marketing.
What is the next step?
The USA Swimming site committee will go through the bids to narrow down a group of finalists. Once they decide on the finalists, they will perform site visits at the prospective sites. The final decision on the trials is expected to be made this summer.