For one of the only (the only?) times in the history of the meet, and certainly the first time of this millenium, the YMCA will be hosting it’s Short Course National Championships outside of Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 2012. That’s because for next year, Greensboro, North Carolina has won the right to host the biggest competitive championship event in the country at their brand-new mega-facility: the Greensboro Aquatic Center. The center is part of the Greensboro Coliseum Complex that includes a 23,000 seat arena and a large convention center to handle the peripheral events that surround the meet.
The move comes after the debacle of this year’s meet where the city engineers of Ft. Lauderdale closed the 1,500 seat grandstand prior to this year’s meet, which resulted in a lot of congestion and chaos in its leadup.
The Greensboro AC, which is scheduled to open this summer, features a 50-meter x 25 yard competition pool, a 25-yard, six-lane warm-up pool, and a six-lane 25-yard diving well with a full compliment of 8 diving apparatus ranging from 1-meter springboards to a 10-meter platform. It will also have a huge capacity, with off-deck seating for 1,850 that is expandable to 2,500.
If Greensboro wants to become the new “destination” for this meet on a long-term basis, they’re going to have a brief opportunity to prove it. That’s because the International Swimming Hall of Fame is slated to undergo a $71 million renovation (pending negotiations with local interest groups) that will make it hard to wrestle any meets away from it for quite some time.
The folks who run the Greensboro Colliseum Complex have plenty of experience running large-scale events. The center has hosted all of the biggest musical groups you can name from every generation (from Taylor Swift to Bruce Springsteen, and back in the 70’s they even hosted bands like the Who and Led Zepplin when they were still in their primes). The center has also hosted an NCAA men’s final 4, 11 NCAA basketball Regionals, and more ACC men’s basketball tournaments, the most prestigious conference tournament in the country, than any other venue in the country.
In the leadup to YMCA Nationals, this complex will host a slew of high-profile aquatics events including the 2011 U.S. Masters Swimming High Performance Camp and the 2012 North Carolina Swimming Age Group Championships. Shortly after YMCA Nationals, it will also play host to the U.S. Masters Spring Nationals.
Greensboro reminds me a lot of Omaha. They are off-the-beaten-trail college towns with similar populations, and both have a ton of experience at hosting large-scale sporting events prior to their ventures into swimming (Omaha hosts the College World Series of baseball every year). If Omaha’s success from the 2008 Olympic Trials is any indicator as to what Greensboro might be capable of, then I expect this meet to be a resounding success.