St. Louis, Missouri is no stranger to big sporting events, having the St. Louis Rams NFL team playing out of their famous Edwards Jones Dome. The Edward Jones Dome however might have a new purpose in the near future, bidding to host the 2016 US Olympic swim trials.
The Edward Jones Dome seating 66,000 people is one of the largest indoor facilities in the United States. It could definitely bring in a lot of revenue, but not only from ticket sales. The Edward Jones Dome is the only stadium in the United States that has a whole section dedicated to food and hospitality. The “Club Level” is home to 42,500 square feet of bars, restaurants, and other places for fans to relax after watching all the action in the pool.
Of course, the whole football-capacity won’t be used for a swim meet. Matt Farrell, Chief Marketing Officer for USA Swimming, said that the event would utilize the facilities in a way where the size wouldn’t be overwhelming.
“In general, they are ranging from anywhere from around 14,000 on the low side to as high as 25,000,” Farrell said of the different events. Though exact figures weren’t available, one would assume that the Indianapolis bid would be on the high side of that figure.
“The configurations really depend on the venue. In the stadiums and domes (Indy, St. Louis, San Antonio), the plan is to push the competition pool down to one side of the stadium and then have the warm-up pool partitioned off on the other side of the “football field” so to speak. So, essentially have the pool run from sideline to sideline vs. end zone to end zone.”
Even at 25,000 seats, though, this facility would still reach far above what we had in Omaha, where capacity of the CenturyLink Center was reduced to just above 14,000 per session. In a city as big as St. Louis, could finals sessions be sold out? They certainly could be at some price-point, one would guess, for the majority of the finals sessions given that CenturyLink was bursting at the seams. There would be little more deflating, however, than having a bunch of empty seats at the meet.
Besides the huge amounts of revenue that it could take in, the dome is extremely familiar with sports. The dome has hosted NFL games, NCAA basketball games, NCAA football games, and the MSHSAA Show Me Bowl football championships. Putting a basketball court on a football field isn’t exactly like putting a swimming pool on, but the setup for the event will likely be similar to what has been used for the NCAA tournament.
Not only is it familiar with sports however, but with big numbers as well. The dome hosted multiple concerts including big names such as U2 and ‘N Sync. In fact, the dome holds the record for having the largest indoor gathering in United States history hosting the 1999 mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II. With a sport growing in popularity, a stadium that boasts all of this will definitely attract larger numbers than in the past.
The Edward Jones Dome would seem to have a much bigger selection of hotel options nearby as well. A quick google maps search shows at least a dozen hotels within a mile, plus it is served by two lines of St. Louis’ mass-transport system, the MetroLink, including one that runs from the airport to the Jones Dome. That makes this meet attendable without a car, as it does many of the city’s attractions.
In the opinion of this writer, the size of the pool, the hotel space nearby, and the public transportation system, the Edwards Jones Domes looks to be one of the favorites to host the 2016 US Olympic Trials.
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