Jacksonville Enters Bid for 2016 US Olympic Trials

Jacksonville, Florida is the latest city to publicly announce its bid for the 2016 US Olympic Trials, according to Jacksonville.com.

Their plan will be similar to that of Omaha, hosts of the last two events, in that they will plant a pool in the center of a basketball arean – Veterans Memorial Arena. The $130 million stadium is similar to the CenturyLink center in Omaha in that it’s main tenants are a mid-major college basketball team (the Jacksonville Dolphins) and a minor-league pro team (in this case arena football), but it was built specifically to be a regional entertainment center and a multi-purpose venue. Also like the Century-Link Center, it’s a relatively new facility – built in the same year, in fact, of 2003.

The facility seats 15,000 (quite a bit smaller than both CenturyLink and especially the 23,500 seat Greensboro Colliseum that has also put in a bid for 2016). There’s also no convention-center next door to house the warmup pool, so it would be interesting to see if there was space for the facility within the building itself. There have also recently been some structural issues with the facility that could cause the selection committee some concern.

But what Jacksonville does have working in its favor is the Super Bowl. In 2005, they hosted Super Bowl XXIX, and so they have plenty of experience with hosting large-scale events (as big as the US Swimming Trials are, even they are dwarfed by the Super Bowl).

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Any chance the trials will ever return to an outdoor venue? I thought the ’04 Long Beach trials had a cool vibe. Swimming indoors in Florida seems kinda silly…but I understand the business aspect with ticket sales and all.

Not very likely for a host of reasons. Long Beach was precedent setting in freeing up Trials from existing pools. Also the Athens pool was outdoor so the outdoor venue drawbacks “simulated” the Athens environment. Also the weather is to iffy to schedule an outdoor event and all of the consequences, for athletes and sponsors, of delays. Finally, indoor pools are faster than outdoor venues and most athletes, fans and sponsors want the fastest times possible.
Perhaps we should start thinking big about Trials….take a page from surfing’s playbook when they booked the first major competition at the “other” Long Beach to draw NYC media. Do you think we could get NYC to temporarily re-name subway stations for Olympic swimmers?

Late June in Jacksonville can run you low 90s with a dew point over 70F, which makes for miserable conditions even if you’ve got a very effective pool cooling system.

I noticed there is no women’s 400 IM on your trials event schedule. I believe it is on the first day. Is that correct?

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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