The City of Ft. Lauterdale, Florida, home to the International Swimming Hall-Of-Fame, has sought out bids for a massive rebuild of one of its landmark facilities. The HOF, which has seen better days since it’s opening in 1964, is badly in need of a face-lift and is currently costing local tax-payers $1 million a year to keep it’s doors open.
President of the HOF Bruce Wigo envisions a HOF that rivals Sydney’s famed opera house in terms of iconic design and would provide entertainment opportunities for the general public, yet would still be one of the, if not the, premier competitive aquatics facilities in the world.
The lone proposal, made by Recreational Design & Construction, would feature a 3-story building housing a new Hall-of-Fame, restaurants, and shops, that would be part of a larger ocean-front revitalization plan.
The complexes aquatics facilities would include a full-competition diving tower, overlooking a 25-meter pool, and two full-sized 50-meter pools. The 25 meter pool would be designed with 1,500 seats and would be ideal for hosting diving, synchronised swimming, and water polo competitions. Under this proposal, the tower would have water-slides twisting around it in order to allow for a dual purpose as a water-park atmosphere. One of the 50-meter pools would feature a moving bottom, cabanas, and decorative landscaping so that it could be adjusted during the day for a resort-like atmosphere. The complex would also feature a band-shell for hosting concerts and other live performances.
Perhaps the coolest feature of the facility would be a multi-million dollar wave machine, that would be capable of producing artificial curling waves of up to 10 feet high, and water speeds of 30 miles per hour. This would be located in a padded pool and would give both novice and experienced surfers a chance to show off their skills.
Developers project that in it’s first year, this complex would bring $537,000 in revenue to the city in it’s first year of operation, based on an increase of 600,000 visitors to the center.
Out of the $76 million, $19.9 million would be financed by the development company. This amount would account for the Wave House, and the private restaurants and shops. Another $9.9 million dollars for a 300-space parking garage would be financed through parking fees. The remaining $46.2 million dollars would be financed by the Ft. Lauterdale area tax payers.
Wigo was surprised that there was only one bid made for the project, however many developers bowed out because of the hyper-speciffic criteria for the project. Wigo’s comments also seem to indicate that he was underwhelmed by the architecture of the complex, and was seeking a plan that would put less of a load on the taxpayers. He described the proposal, while commendable for meeting many of the important criteria, as simply a modern update to the original design, rather than the internationally recognizable icon that he is hoping would put the facility on the map.
Many self-proclaimed “beach activists” were similarly upset by the amount of the bill that the taxpayer would have to foot, and were upset that they were not consulted in the design of a project that would have a major impact on what they see as their domain. Many other local citizens question the viability of such a huge project on a facility that has not proven to be anywhere near economic viability in it’s current state.
The piece of land that the ISHOF sits on has unique potential, as it has it’s own peninsula jutting into Florida’s Intracoastal water way. This redesign is expected to connect from the Intracoastal to the Atlantic Ocean over Seabreeze Boulevard. Hopefully, a plan can be completed that is both economically viable and visually spectacular to give this wonderful organization an even bigger footprint in the world of swimming.