USA Swimming Names 6 Finalists for 2016 Olympic Trials Hosting

Six cities have been named as finalists by USA Swimming to host the 2016 Olympic Trials. After two-straight events were held (magnificently) in Omaha, Nebraska, the bidding has been opened up this year, though Omaha will once again be in the running to bring it back to the state of Nebraska.

The 6 contenders are below:

* Greensboro, N.C.
* Indianapolis, Ind.
* Jacksonville, Fla.
* Omaha, Neb.
* St. Louis, Mo.
* San Antonio, Texas

The bid city evaluation period will run through the end of April and will include site visits to select finalist locations. An internal evaluation team from USA Swimming, along with an outside member of the USA Swimming board, will visit each location and select finalists from the group. In addition to reviewing the bids and making site visits, this team will ask follow-up questions of each city and evaluate all information and responses before ultimately making a recommendation to USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus, the USA Swimming Board of Directors and the USOC.

“We are thrilled to begin this process and are excited to see what these cities have to offer,” said Mike Unger, USA Swimming Assistant Executive Director. “The Olympic Trials is the marquee swimming event in the U.S. and has grown into an amazing sports event. We are truly excited to continue to enhance the event and make it even more spectacular in 2016.”

Interestingly, all of the hosting bids are in the Central and Eastern time zones, despite so many of the country’s major swimming hubs being in the West in California. Also not among the finalists are Louisville, who had previously considered a bid and who I thought would’ve made a great host. The 6 finalists are among 16 cities believed to show preliminary interest.

Quick hits on the bid cities, with more thorough analysis to come in the next few weeks:

Indianapolis, Indiana – Discussion has been had about holding it in Lucas Oil Stadium, the 60,000 + seat home of the Indianapolis Colts. The prospect is intriguing, but could be overkill. Indy has a lot of experience hosting big meets though, including this summer’s World Championship Trials as well as both of the 2013 NCAA Championship meets.

Greensboro, N.C. - This might have been what developers used to convince the city of Greensboro to build the beautiful new Greensboro Aquatics Center, something many locals weren’t happy about. That pool isn’t big enough to hold the meet, but the Greensboro Coliseum, in the same complex, certainly is, and that’s where this bid is for.

Jacksonville, Florida – Veteran’s Memorial Arena is the likely target here. It feels very similar to the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, with one small exception: it’s about 8,000 seats smaller. With most finals sessions jam-packed in Omaha, hard to see the meet downsized this much in 2016, even after Phelps.

St. Louis, Missouri – The relative newcomer in this process, St. Louis has been named a finalist. The Edward Jones Dome, home of the St. Louis Rams, seats 60,000 plus and has previously hosted an NCAA basketball Final 4 (which would take up a similarly-small footprint as a pool would). That makes a second bid proposing use of a football stadium. (There is also a hockey arena in St. Louis, but that will be tied up by the St. Louis Blues in June).

San Antonio, Texas – This is a really interesting bid. San Antonio is a huge city that has built an industry around hosting other peoples’ sports teams. They are a frequent NCAA basketball tournament host, despite never having a major contender. They host a college football game every year despite not having their own NFL team and only recently getting a Division I college football team. You know they’d put on a good show, and they’re currently building a huge, outdoor facility that they expect to be able to host national level events in, so swimming is their next target.

Omaha, Nebraska – The sentimental favorite. Host of the last two. The veterans. Rocky IV. Been through many battles, but keeps coming back for more. Omaha has a great downtown close to the CenturyLink Center, won’t bring too many surprises, and we know they can put on a show. There is fatigue in some corners of the swimming community, though, who would love a change of scenery.

Where should 2016 US Olympic Swimming Trials be held?

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  1. WHOKNOWS says:

    Let’s see… how many times did Indianapolis host the Oltmpic Trials – 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, and 2000… A nice legacy was left behind with all the Olympian names painted on the wall.
    Omaha has great community support… not too many empty seats

  2. Britt says:

    As a North Carolinian, I really hope Greensboro gets to host them!

  3. peeterdeeter aka tallbear says:

    St. Louis is a great place. I’d be stoked to swim or watch there, just not in E. St. Louie, unless Nelly shows. Love Greensboro too(home of Stars in Danger on the High Dive right?). Don’t ever want to go to Jacksonville again….I made a promise to myself on that one! You can’t do outdoor in San Antonio, was stuck in a 3 day thunderstorm with no flights out in July or August of 1999. Indy and Omaha are classics, and wow on the show they put on in Omaha, but I think I’m clinically depressed just from wandering the surroundings areas of both cities.

    What does that leave? I say Norcal/socal are the natural choices. Swimming meccas that offer more than just pools and hotels as destinations during the two week stay. I think Palo Alto offers a ton, despite the Golden blood that runs through this bear’s veins. Feel free to ignore me tho since we know it will be Omaha…..bring on the steak!

    • Emily Mullen says:

      I’m with you Peeter, I’ve been a spectator at the ’96 trials in Indy and ’04 trials in Long Beach, and I’d love to see trials at any of Cali’s top pools, but failing that Indy would be the location I could most easily attend, so it gets my vote!

  4. YOLO says:

    St. Louis would be a great spot, and a fun town. It has somewhat of a similar vibe to Omaha and a large draw with the local swimming community. The options of venues in St. Louis is also appealing. Omaha has been fantastic in the past…definitely a toss up between the two

  5. Ellen says:

    I’d love for St. Louis to host it, but those seem like a pretty solid slate of candidates thought I’m not loving Jacksonville. I guess I’d rank my choices as: St. Louis, Indy, Omaha, Greensboro, San Antonio, Jacksonville.

  6. Lisa says:

    I would also love for St Louis to host this but I bet it goes back to Indy, tried and true.

  7. Matthew says:


  8. Jim says:

    What, did no major city put in a bid? Each of these cities are a pain to get to and have limited hotel space, all of which drives up the cost of attending this event. Why aren’t LA, SF, Chicago, Tampa, Dallas, Houston, Denver, Seattle, etc. bidding for this event? Or, if they are, why aren’t they being selected?

    • Braden Keith Braden Keith says:

      Jim – I spoke with someone in Houston, they considered an offer but declined. There’s often conflicts with other events in these big cities and they can’t afford to hold a major arena in “pool mode” for 6-8 weeks.

      Not that I’m saying it’s the best choice, but I wouldn’t undersell San Antonio as a “major city” just because it doesn’t have an NFL Team. It’s the 7th-biggest city in the U.S., and bigger than: Sf, Tampa, Dallas, Denver, and Seattle. Tampa, by the way, has a smaller population than Omaha.

      • beachmouse says:

        You really need to look at city+suburbs for accurate population data, even though it’s a huge pain to get from Tampa to Clearwater or St. Pete to Brandon.

        Population of the Tampa-St. Pete’s-Clearwater MSA- 4.3 million

        Population of the Omaha MSA- 415K.

    • Neptune says:

      Not sure how Indy is a pain to get to and does not hotel space. They had the Superbowl last year. San Antonio makes no sense if it would be outdoors. It is 100 degrees there in June.

      • Braden Keith Braden Keith says:

        San Antonio is building an outdoor pool…but that doesn’t mean that’s where the meet will be. They have a large basketball arena as well.

        • Neptune says:

          The basketball arena is very far removed from the river walk and anything else of interest. The Alamo Dome is right downtown, will be interesting to see if they pitch that.

          • Braden Keith Braden Keith says:

            Confirmed that the bid is for the Alamo Dome.

          • Neptune2029 says:

            That makes San Antonio really interesting then. I have been there for the Alamo Bowl before and it is a lot of fun. Also, from what I have seen the local swimming community there would provide a lot of support.

    • liquidassets says:

      Long Beach won’t do it again after losing $ on it in ’04

  9. jarrerttbrown says:

    I guess the reason why we won’t see somewhere like MSG is because of the fact that it’s too big and too busy year round to host something like that. One can dream though.

  10. Jim says:

    Yes, you’re right re: San Antonio. I always forget they are a large population center, but it never struck me as an event hub. And I also lump the entire Bay Area together (even East Bay) for stuff like this, so SF, San Jose, Oakland, make for one big metro area. I consider the Tampa/Sarasota/Orlando triangle similarly. Point is, we looked at going to Omaha this year, but flight options were wickedly complicated and because rack space was low, you paid very high prices for Best Western -type hotels. The event tickets were the least of the problems.

    • Coacherik says:

      I take it you have never traveled to a city that is hosting a major event like this? Hotel prices go up at every hotel for a major sporting event. Look at low end hotels in cities during NFL weekends. All the major cities you listed are already expensive, wait until you drop something like this their.

  11. dmswim says:

    As a St. Louis native, I would love to see it there! I think a midwest location is optimal because it doesn’t require either west coasters or east coasters to travel more than a few hours and minimizes time zone changes. St. Louis has a major airport and strong swimming community in the area. I’ve been to Greensboro, San Antonio, and Indianapolis as well. Greensboro is a great location but the small airport and east coast location are concerns. The other two seem like decent options.

  12. Anonymous says:

    St.Louis and Jacksonville have the same issue: both have nothing around the arena area. St. Louis has cool neighborhood areas but nothing even like Omaha downtown (so plan on a lot of driving). As I told friends who were mentioning Jacksonville as an option at this years trials: when they hosted the Super Bowl a few years ago everyone hated it. Everything is really spread out with a really sparse downtown. It was so bad that it came back up during last years Super Bowl coverage. If they do it in San Antonio indoors that can be a blast- the Riverwalk is awesome.

    • There is Laclede’s Landing AND a brand new casino (with a Four Seasons Hotel) about 100 yards from the Edward Jones dome. Also, summer in St. Louis means CARDINAL baseball. St. Louis’ museums, parks and other attractions are not as far away as you might think.

    • Jeff says:

      The Edward Jones Dome is served by Metrolink light rail. The immediate area has seen a resurgence of development. Pi PIzza (Obama ate at Pi and invited Chefs to White House in first term), Robust Wine Bar, Snarfs, Embassy Suites, MX Movies (high end movie theater) …. Anyone ever heard of City Museum, it’s close by and really fun/interesting. Washington Avenue is stacked with great food and beer bars located on Locust are great (Schlafly Tap Room on Locust St and Bridge Tap House. StL has a lot to offer!

    • Dan Kraus says:

      Seriously? Have you been to St. Louis? You can fly into St. Louis, take the metro from the airport to downtown, attend all swimming events and walk to great restaurants, attractions (arch, casino, Laclede’s Landing, Old Cathedral, where the movie The Exorcist began, etc) and never have to rent a car, saving you money. Plenty of hotels downtown, not to mention Cardinal baseball in June. Anonymous, you really should visit first before you spout off about nothing going on in St. Louis. What other town even mentioned has major league baseball going on while you are there?

      • Braden Keith Braden Keith says:

        Dan Kraus – serious question then. Aside from being perhaps a little more direct-flight accessible, what does that have up on Omaha? Not taking a stab at St. Louis, I’m a midwest guy and would love to see it there, but Omaha has College World Series, casinos, very walkable, lots of hotel space…sounds a lot of the same pros.

        Accessibility probably is a big issue. I wonder what the average ticket price difference is flying into St. Louis vs. Omaha Would bet it’s a lot cheaper for the former than the latter.

        • Dan Kraus says:

          I bet it is cheaper to fly into St. Louis than Omaha. Southwest is a major carrier here. All the things you mentioned in Omaha happen in St. Louis within walking distance of this event. The College World Series will not be played during the swim finals, but the Cardinals will be playing. Casinos, restaurants, nightclubs, City Museum is a must, Old Catherdral, Arch, these are all within walking distance of the event. You will not have to rent a car unless you WANT to visit the Hill for great Italian food or go to the Loop for a great live music venue. I just don’t see that Omaha can stand up to what St. Louis has to offer. If you have not been here in awhile, I suggest you come to City Museum. If nothing else, you will change your mind as soon as you experience it.

      • Kimbelry says:

        Finally…someone that is also smart about St. Louis. Not to mention that if it is hosted by St. Louis, the athletes will never have to leave the building when they use the other pools. Everything will be constructed with in the Edward Jones Dome. No other city will be able to do that.

    • Kimberly says:

      It would be fine in St. Louis. Union Station has great eating in there. Galleria, not that far away from Downtown has great food selections and restaurants are between there. St. Louis is a great location for the trials and it would improve this city in lots of ways. Vote St. Louis.

  13. da swimmer says:

    st.louis rocks you should host it in st.louis ppppppppppllllllleeeeeaaaaassssseeee!!!!! its my 1 dream !!!

    • jeantuehl says:

      St. Louis is not a swimming town, and St. Louis is Africa hot in the summer being situated in the largest river valley in the US. Worse than Omaha for sure. It’s strictly a baseball town, nothing more, nothing less. It would have to be inside for sure, maybe at the hockey arena where the Blues play. Good pasta in “The Hill” district.

      • Braden Keith Braden Keith says:

        Omaha was absolutely miserable this summer in terms of heat. I don’t think San Antonio would’ve been that bad. I’m from Houston, and I felt sick more than once walking from the pool to Farrell’s. I hope that was an anomaly, though – Omaha was such a good time, that nobody even mentions how how it was.

      • DMSWIM says:

        While I agree the St. Louis heat and humidity is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced even after living in the south, I disagree that St. Louis is not a swimming town. The area has 3 major clubs that run multi-facility programs and have around 400 swimmers a piece in addition to a handful of smaller clubs. In the Central Section, St. Louis clubs are pretty strong and visible. They would destroy the Kansas City Blazers every year if they combined forces. They have a much larger presence than Omaha clubs who attend the same meet.

        • Michelle says:

          Agreed! Local clubs had several swimmers at the 2012 trials and also have quite a few young up and comers who expect to be there in 2016. We woud LOVE to have the trials in STL in 2016!

        • Joe says:

          make that 4 major swim clubs

        • Stl says:

          St. Louis is the biggest city with a club culture that consistently underachieves. Why should we award my hometown, when high school and summer league are more important. So whoever DM is needs to wake up and smell the coffee and stop living on fantasy island!

          • dmswim says:

            I grew up there and knew plenty of people (including myself) who skipped out on summer league and high school to focus on club swimming and once I got to college on the east coast I found that I was the only one on my college team that had done so.

      • Kimberly says:

        St. Louis is a humidity town on a very HOT day. Africa is all dry heat. Not sure where that came from. Been here all my life, never experienced Africa in St. Louis. My boys have swam club for 10 years now. We have swam on a team in St. Louis, and moved to a YMCA/USA team in Illinois the last 2 years. We have enjoyed both of them. While I agree that we care alot about baseball, the swimming world has picked up.
        St. Louis deserves to have the trials here. Not saying the other cities don’t, but we are in the midwest, in a central location. There would be a warm welcome here in the Gateway City.

    • Kimberly says:

      I agree. Host it in the Lou. My son should be in the trials by then. What better way to start your swimming career off right, then to swim the trials in your own city.

  14. Todd says:

    The St. Louis bid has an interesting edge: You basically won’t have to leave the venue. The competition pool will be in the Edward Jones dome, as will a 50 meter cool down pool. The competition pool and cool down pool will be separated by an on deck spectator stand, from what I hear. The fan zone will be just an underground tunnel away, as will be another 25 yard warm down pool. A big hotel is connected to both facilities by another tunnel, so conceivably you would never have to leave your hotel to attend the meet. Arrive at the airport, take the metro, and you’re there! Though, of course, you would be missing the great Italian and German restaurants in St. Louis, especially the Italian restaurants on “The Hill”, and Ted Drewes frozen custard! There is plenty to do in St. Louis, and if you aren’t the type to want to do those things, well, you don’t have to leave the premise.

  15. Randy says:

    San Antonio has the Riverwalk, River Center Mall, tons of major hotels and restaurants along the river and its all within walking distance of the Alamodome. Plus, lots of culture :)

  16. Michelle says:

    How can anyone say that St. Louis is not big enough to hold the trials? Much less expensive that those major east/west coast cities – airport is 30 miles from the venue and accessible by light rail. There are hotels enough to hold The World Series baseball games, NCAA basketball & wrestling national championships and gymnastics nationals – the swimming trials would be very similar to those events. TONS of non-swimming stuff to do – Arch, Zoo, Art Museum, Casino, cultural neighborhoods and food – mostly accessible by walking, light rail or a 5-10 minute taxi ride. The heat is a non-issue – the venue will be inside. As far as St. Louis not being a swimming city – they have several elite club swimmers who participated in the trials in 2012 and many more young up and comers not quite at that level yet who expect to be there 2016. My vote is for STL for a change – can’t wait to see who is picked!

  17. TheRealQuestion says:

    Is which city has the best cigar lounges? Omaha certainly has a few, and is quite a cigar friendly town overall. What is an Olympic Trials meet in June without a steak and a fine cigar?

  18. Rev says:

    Greensboro has best venue for the athletes with 3 50 meter pools and 2 25 yard pools. 23,000 seat arena for competition, warmup pool built within 75 yds of competition pool, Greensboro Aquatic Center adjacent to the arena which could hold time trials and seats 2500. No other venue can duplicate this.
    Arena has hosted ncaa basketball final 4 and regularly hosts East Regionals. Because of hosting these large scale events, there is a huge amount of parking available, tons of hotels within 8 minutes of pool. Greensboro airport is 10 minutes and Charlotte and Raleigh are both 65 minutes away.
    Swimming interest is high in NC with 8 2012 US Olympians, 5th most OT qualifiers in 2008 and 2012 and over 8,000 US registered athletes. Summer leagues in Raleigh, Greensboro, and Charlotte top over 25,000 alone. Ez drive from Atlanta, Richmond, DC, Columbia, Jacksonville.
    NC hosted 1987 US Olympic Festival which was 1st OF to turn a profit. Cities of Greensboro’s size have an advantage in that this will be the biggest game in town, unlike NY or LA. The nearby Charlotte ultraswim is a favorite grand prix stop due to organization and southern hospitatlity.
    Still the biggest selling point is that it is the best venue for athletes with the most water and with enough seating that athletes won’t be having to fight for seats or arrive 2 hrs early to save them.
    Greensboro looks good!

    • Braden Keith Braden Keith says:

      I think Rev makes a great point. While the GAC isn’t close enough to serve as a warmup pool, it could absolutely be used for time trials and for swimmers to use on off days, which would declutter the warmup pool a bit.

      • Coach says:

        Greensboro AC has had severe air quality issues from the very first Zone meet they hosted (and the Southern Zone meet is not a large number of athletes- I think teams are limited to 50 swimmers a team).

        If they get the bid, I hope the GAC is not included anywhere in their plans. I would hate to have one of our studs miss the team because he or she develops respiratory issues from the “warm up” venue.

        • Rev says:

          I believe you are mistaken….GAC has never hosted Zones so maybe you are thinking of another pool. This will be a fantastic set up for the athletes.

  19. Bob Dorr says:

    Ok, Chicago did not get the 2016 Olympics, but St. Louis getting the swimming trials would be a cool substitute. Swimming in a domed stadium is a bit hard to picture.

  20. Peeterdeeter aka Steak and a Smoke says:

    As long as the shops carry some General Snus I’ll pop one in and relax after a steak…wouldn’t even mind coming home smelling like a fine cigar if that were the case. You speak the troof RealQuestion. I like you. Omaha it is!

  21. Matthew Sprang says:

    I love the idea of keeping Trials in a medium-sized city. While having it in LA, San Francisco, NYC, or other large city sounds like a great idea an event like Trials will not get the full attention of those cities like is did in Omaha (and could in Indy, Jacksonville, etc.) Omaha completely wrapped their arms around the event and the swimming community. We were their focal point (especially after the CWS was finished) and it made for a great atmosphere inside and outside of the venue.
    Philadelphia played host to the 2008 gymnastics trials, but you wouldn’t have known unless you drove past the arena to see the banner displayed on the building. No coverage on the nightly news and very limited coverage in the Philadelphia newspapers. After seeing this I put the “Trials in Philadelphia” banner away. While I would love to see it happen here it is not what would be best for the sport (plus we don’t have the facilities here to house two indoor 50 meter pools). I doubt we would see welcome banners at the airport, signs on buildings, or LIGHT SHOWS on buildings we saw in Omaha in Philadelphia or any other large city with other major sports taking up the minds of the people and pages in the newspaper.

  22. SyDnEy says:


  23. Kathryn says:

    St. Louis is a familiy friendly town. there are in fact several things near the venue to do and see and this is what this venue was built for. It has a rich tradition of swimming and not since Greg Louganis diving will we have had this opportunity. There are several swim officials in the area qualified to participate in this as well. This is a great opportunity for all parties involved and I know St. Louis is the place for this event.

  24. Stephen Woolery says:

    St. Louis is a great city to visit and offers much for the preliminary Olympic trials.

  25. beachmouse says:

    St. Louis also hosted the 1904 Olympics, and it would be a nice touch to hold a Trials in an Olympic city.

  26. Lowell Peterson says:

    Meet me in St. Louis at the 2016 Olympic Swim Trials. Lowell Peterson, Father of 4 swimmers and grandfather of a whole bunch of water bugs!!

  27. jeantuehl says:

    Even though St. Louis, MO has a French tradition, realistically they have just about nil chance. There’s no sugar coating that turd in the hot, hot, hot summer. Don’t get caught in East St. Louis, Ill by accident (opposite side of the river) or some of the suburbs near downtown either.

    • David Pennington says:

      STL would be a great city for this event. Lots of support from the swimming community, no shortage of fun things to do and regarding the heat – the event is inside.

    • Jeff says:

      Why bash St. Louis? If you can’t make the case for somewhere else, I see no reason to cross out StL. You know Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center is a short ride on the Metrolink east, same place as recent Silver Mealist Dawn Harper came from. You know St. Louis hosted the Worlds Fair and 1904 Olympics in the same year? Also StL hosted 2009 MLB All Star game, NCAA Wrestling Championships, Frozen Four and Final Four. But, somehow the Olympic Swim Trials are off limits? Come on now…

  28. Anonymous says:

    St. Louis would be a great city! The local clubs are growing in size and number. In addition, swimming in the schools is growing as well. Even some of the middle schools are now fielding teams and meets.

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