2016 US Olympic Swimming Trials Could go to Indy’s Lucas Oil Stadium

  16 Gold Medal Mel Stewart | January 04th, 2013 | National, News

US Olympic Swimming Trials is, arguably, one of the greatest swimming competitions on earth. It’s certainly one of the best production of an aquatic event. For the right city, it is a highly coveted 8-day tent-pole competition, and several cities are lining up to make their pitch to be the 2016 host.

Rumors were circulating that Dallas was the leader, but that turned out to be merely talk. Dallas Cowboy reps attended a couple of informal meetings about hosting the 2016 Trials at Cowboys Stadium, one in Colorado Springs, USA Swimming’s HQ, and one during the 2012 Trials in Omaha. At this point, however, it appears they may not be putting a proposal together.

As many as 16 other cities are putting their hats in the ring, including Greensboro, Louisville, Jacksonville, and two-time host, Omaha, as reported by WTHR.com.

A tried and true swimming host, Indianapolis, has the potential to be a front-runner. Indy’s IUPUI Natatorium has hosted the US Olympic Swimming Trials six time before, not to mention countless USA Swimming national championships, NCAA Championships, and even the 2004 FINA Short Course World Championships.

The Indianapolis Sport Corp is reportedly stepping up for the 2016 Trials, and they’re not pitching the IUPUI Natatorium swimmers know and love well. Frankly, the venue is too small to support the 15,000 fans that attend each session. Trials, according to USA Swimming standards, requires that level of seating plus two 50 meter pools to accommodate the elite swimmers.

“The above ground pools (temporary pools) would instead be built at Lucas Oil Stadium,” The Sports Corp’s John Dedman told WTHR.

Consider it, a football stadium, one that hosted the Superbowl, hosing the 2016 US Olympic Swimming Trials. The $700 million stadium, opened in 2008, holds 60,000 plus; though we are probably a few decades away from turning up that many for a swim meet, so a bid there would likely involve curtaining off a certain portion of the facility. The potential, though, especially in a swimming-friendly state like Indiana, would be huge.

Don’t get too carried away. The Sports Corp, according to Debman, has made it clear they’re interested, however, they have not submitted a formal bid for the 2016 Trials…yet.

USA Swimming will likely make their decision on the 2016 Trials host city in May.

In This Story


  1. ATLSwim says:

    Come to Atlanta, but you’re going to have to wait until 2020 when our new stadium is in place. I think the concept of using a stadium setting, instead of an area is just the challenge swimming needs. Let’s have a meet with 40,000 plus people in attendance. The stadium seating can be configured using the lower bowl and club level of seating to maintain that packed house feel. Sell the 10K-15K or so prime seats needed to foot some of the bill for the meet (tv revenue and sponsorship tend to cover the rest), and sell the remaining 30,000 seats to local and regional swimmers. Keep in mind, you are in the middle of summer league season when kids are actively dialed into swimming, there are 40,000 plus kids in summer swimming in metro Atlanta alone. Imagine what a hold the sport can have on them if they go to a meet with that importance and that crowd, they may never pick up another ball for the rest of their lives. I say go big or go home.

  2. Kirk Nelson says:

    My first thought was that the dimensions of the field are all wrong, but not really. A football field is about 49 meters wide, sideline-to-sideline. The competition pool could be built on one end, then a partition (giant curtain) could be hung with the warmup pool on the other side. A large grandstand would need to be erected on the field on the curtain side, though to make this an effective seating arrangement. This is how the Pontiac Silverdome was configured back when the Pistons played there.

  3. swim TX says:

    unimpressed with the pool at IUPUI; not sure that many swimmers love it much anymore. Omaha did a great job. Long Beach was beautiful. Both towns seemed easier to get around than Indianapolis. A football stadium is way too big of a venue; it doesn’t have the right feel. Central time zone is nice. If Dallas is bidding, I’m sure they could find another venue.

    • justanopinion says:

      There are really no current aquatic facilities in use right now that can handle what the scope of Trials now requires.
      While I get the idea that people might want to change from Omaha, the truly nice thing about the facility is that there are not a lot of NBA/NHL sized arenas in the country that also have a huge convention center attached right on to it where not only can you have the full warm up facilities “backstage” but have a huge Aqua-Zone which is a big draw to spectators who need something to do, especially during prelims.
      Omaha basically is USA Swimming’s ‘perfect venue’….it will just remain to be seen if the itch for change is stronger for having a great setup.
      Long Beach did it very well too if you are willing to have an outdoor meet….and there is a good argument if the Olympics is going to be outdoors, then Trials should be held outdoors.
      Truly, the best place to prepare for a potentially outdoors (or outdoors with a roof) Rio Olympics would be south Florida. But unless there is a roof on everything, that’s not a realistic option with the mandatory daily rain showers there. They would literally have to build something from scratch.
      Word is that other areas of Texas may be looking and at that time of year, the weather would be right in relation to Rio and no rain at that time of year. But Dallas and Indy have nothing of Omaha’s scope of facility, except Cowboys and Lucas stadium

  4. jeantuehl says:

    Time for a change. Omaha did a great job but we need a fresh venue and city. Naptown (Indy) is a great sports town.

  5. WHOKNOWS says:

    The Rio Olympics are bing held outdoors???

  6. Mac says:

    What about hosting outdoors where their is potential for thunderstorms?
    Delays would be a mess! What if a session got stormed out?

    Yes, Long Beach was outdoors, but does it ever rain there? )ha!)

  7. justanopinion says:

    If Indy pitches Lucas Oil stadium, don’t put money that Jerry won’t jump back in to host the event at Jerry-World. There was a lot of talk they wanted it and even wanted 2012 Trials there, but didn’t understand the bidding process and that it had already been sent to Omaha much earlier in the quad and were simply too late in asking about hosting it.
    If it’s going to be held in a football stadium, even though the Cowboys pretty much suck, Jerry is still a master of business when it comes to getting every and any sort of event into that venue and they aren’t going to want this event in another NFL stadium.

    However agree with the idea that a football stadium is actually TOO big for such an event. Omaha is the perfect size and in a super stadium with probably upwards of 60,000 empty seats in a cavernous environment, it would actually dampen the atmosphere of the event and make things less fun for the swimmers and spectators.
    And one of the truly good things USA Swimming has done the last 3 Trials was to make the atmosphere FUN for the swimmers to compete in (they forget that word a lot but seem to get it right every 4 years lately). The pressure is still there and always will be, but if you are going to be scared but somewhere inside still think “OK this is cool”, that sometimes can help someone out.
    A football stadium would definitely make the event feel intimidating to some and with crowd noise and enthusiasm dampened and muted by facility size (think of a badly attended Bowl game lately) I don’t think USA Swimming should seriously give consideration to “go big”.
    Now the Conseco Fieldhouse…..that would be an interesting idea in a great sports town. If Indy is serious, they might want to divert their focus there.

    • WONDERING says:

      i’m not sure if Conseco (now Bankers Life Fieldhouse) could hold a 50m pool, let along two. One pool might have to be setup outside the fieldhouse which would be doable. i think that having the Natatorium just two miles away would be awesome for an additional warmup pool or for time trials. I agree that Lucas may be too big for the desired asmosphere.

    • Coacherik says:


  8. ilswimcoach says:

    The 2004 short course world championships were actually held at Conseco Fieldhouse which is now Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

  9. Philip Johnson says:

    that sounds like a good idea but like the article says, there may be a lot of empty seats in a venue that big. i don’t think any swimming competition for that matter could fill 60k seats, even the Olympics.

  10. newswim says:

    Sounds good to me…..haven’t had a wedge salad and steak at St Elmo’s since 1996.

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About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

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