We’ve heard from reliable sources in Omaha this week that one of the more than one-dozen cities that have become candidates to host the 2016 Olympic Trials is Louisville, Kentucky.
Louisville, which is located in norther Kentucky near the border with Indiana and Ohio, has just over half-a-million residents (706,000 at the latest census): slightly bigger than current hosts Omaha. It’s a very similar town in that it has a large student population, and is also home to several large corporations that could be partners, including GE’s consumer electronics wing, Papa John’s, and Yum! Brands (the parent company of KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut).
It is the Yum!-sponsored KFC Yum! Center that would be the most likely host in terms of a convertible arena. The $238 million arena opened in late 2010 and was built primarily for the use of the Louisville men’s and women’s basketball teams, though it has since expanded its purpose for a multitude of other events. With a 22,000 seating capacity (which would likely be reduced once a pool is installed) it would be much larger than what we saw in Omaha. However it’s not clear whether swimming can sell out a 22,000 seat arena in any event other than the Olympic Games.
Louisville has a similar sort of feel to Omaha – it has enough of a population to support a great downtown and provide non-swimming entertainment, but is still small enough to embrace the swimming community and hand the keys over for a meet like this.
It’s still not abundantly clear where a warmup pool would go – specs of the arena don’t give an indication that there’s a locale large enough to hold it directly adjacent to the pool, but just like Jacksonville there could be some creativity involved.
Louisville joins Jacksonville, Greensboro, Indianapolis, and Omaha as cities believed to be interested in hosting Trials, with more than 15 having submitted a notion for more information. We will learn more about the process and the finalists this fall, when those cities truly interested respond to a request for proposal, with a decision hoping to be made by May of 2013.