Mutual of Omaha Ends Sponsorship of USA Swimming; Duel In Pool At Risk

Insurance and financial giant Mutual of Omaha has dropped its sponsorship of USA Swimming after 15 years, which could cause some major shakeups to USA Swimming’s biggest domestically-hosted events.

The Omaha World-Herald reports that the partnership between USA Swimming and Mutual of Omaha ended with the expiration of a contract between the two at the end of 2016. USA Swimming’s chief marketing officer Matt Farrell said the end of the sponsorship came “out of the blue” and that the two organizations “were well on our way to discussing the future in terms of a renewal” before things took a turn  late last year. Farrell’s full quotes, per the World-Herald:

“USA Swimming’s reaction is somewhere between disappointment and disbelief,” said Matt Farrell, chief marketing officer at USA Swimming in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“We had an incredible run together,” Farrell said, “and quite frankly we were well on our way to discussing the future in terms of a renewal, and then things took a very surprising turn …

“Their decision to end it came out of the blue.” He said Mutual learned of the decision in late September.

Mutual of Omaha also dropped its four-year sponsorship of an Indycar racing company, another contract that expired in 2016 and was not renewed. According to the Omaha World-Herald, Mutual of Omaha is still sponsoring some professional golfers this year.

“The contracts ended, and that gave us an opportunity to step back and revisit our sponsorship strategy and make sure the sponsorships were meeting our business needs,” Nolan said in the World-Herald piece.

“Both were excellent relationships and did a lot to promote our brand. But it’s not unusual for companies to change sponsorships and seek new opportunities to connect with customers.”

The move could threaten the Duel in the Pool, typically sponsored by Mutual of Omaha. The all-star meet between the United States and Europe takes place in odd-numbered years, and should be set for late 2017. The 2017 version would likely be back in Europe after Indianapolis hosted 2015’s event, but the World-Herald reports that the end of Mutual of Omaha’s sponsorship could “sink” the event.

The World-Herald also suggests the end of the sponsorship could impact the city of Omaha’s chances to host a fourth-consecutive U.S. Olympic Trials event in 2020. Omaha hosted the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Trials, though hosts for 2020 have yet to be announced.

 

AB

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S W
5 years ago

I must in the minority but while it was great to take our age group swimmers to Omaha to watch the trials last summer, I thought the arena experience (aside from the swimming itself) was underwhelming. Maybe we are just used to too much spectacle with local pro sports venues, but I could barely hear the announcer and I thought his commentary was very uninspired. Mostly he said things like “Let me hear you Omaha!” during events. I also thought the food and beverage options in the arena were pretty poor. I think the arena idea for trials is great to allow for so many spectators but if you are going to go with an arena, you might as well… Read more »

Mikeh
5 years ago

What a shame! I wonder if Josh Davis’s swim clinics are effected in all this.

Rebecca
Reply to  Mikeh
5 years ago

You do know he took a DIII Head Coaching position in Oklahoma, right?

Taa
5 years ago

They aren’t switching the location. USA swimming might put it out to bid but only to get a higher percentage of the profits now that there is absolutely no financial or operational risk in hosting the meet there. They will try to tighten the standards and I’m sure the kids will step up again and max out the entries.

Joel Lin
5 years ago

Mixed feelings here. Omaha as a venue for Trials has been great from a commercial perspective. I don’t think the temporary stadium pools are the fastest facilities possible, but the crowds and the spectacles have been great for the sport.

I hope, and expect, that a Silicon Valley player will absorb this. Oracle, Apple, Alphabet, et al. It makes too much sense that this wouldn’t be the case. Stanford has all but the stadium set. 2×50 meter pools & a short course pool. If the University were willing to allow the adjacent fields to be invaded once every 4 years for a Long Beach 2004 style outdoor stadium, that could really play well. The importance of having scaffoldings for… Read more »

Taa
Reply to  Joel Lin
5 years ago

They could use the LA 2024 stadium and pool set up as a trial run and then store it and move it down to LA in 4 years.

Admin
Reply to  Joel Lin
5 years ago

I love the idea – but I can almost guarantee you that unless there’s real deep pockets pushing for it or some kind of radical shift in perspective with the new ED, there won’t be an outdoor trials anytime soon.

Brian M
Reply to  Braden Keith
5 years ago

If they build the new Belmont Pool to the current design, it has my vote for Olympic Trials. 2x50M pools, one indoor and one out, plus the diving well and a rec pool. Parking would be a nightmare, but small price to pay to be on the beach.

Admin
Reply to  Brian M
5 years ago

Nowhere near big enough, not enough bells and whisltes, unless they think the ticket sales can justify knocking out the roof and walls to build a massive temporary grandstand and then re-build them.

Omaha really is an ideal location, unless they move into a basketball arena on a college campus. Maybe the Carrier Dome in Syracuse? PNC Arena in Raleigh? There’s just not a ton of good options that can be guaranteed to be empty for 8+ weeks in May and June.

The only other realistic options (unless USA Swimming starts talking about football stadiums again) could be UNLV’s Thomas & Mack center.. About the same size as CenturyLink (17,923), and Vegas obviously has the capacity for these types… Read more »

Joel Lin
Reply to  Braden Keith
5 years ago

All are interesting suggestions. I also wonder what, as a practical matter, would be the possibility of a USA National Swimming Center along the same model the USTA took to build out the US Open site. This would require a major corporate sponsor. If a permanent venue could be established somewhere where land acquisition costs aren’t absurd & climate is accomodative (outside of San Diego? Orlando? Dallas/Ft Worth?) USA Swimming could build a venue to include a Rio type shelled but not enclosed stadium with warm up pools & a deep diving well/25mx25m pool. This could be the permanent residence for US selection meets & be used as a national team training center.

Admin
Reply to  Joel Lin
5 years ago

Joel – that would be really cool. I think that’s SORT OF what they wanted to do with San Antonio…though they didn’t really get all the way there. USA Swimming really, really likes Colorado Springs for National Team training stuff, with the altitude and all, and I think the economics of having a separate training center from the offices might not work as well. And I think USA Swimming really, really likes living in Colorado Springs.

But, again, maybe a new ED will shake things up? Bring in radical new ideas? Not likely, but maybe.

Wowo
Reply to  Braden Keith
5 years ago

Orlando or San Antonio would be better options than Omaha…

Admin
Reply to  Wowo
5 years ago

Can you elaborate on that opinion?

You’re going to have a hard time convincing me that an outdoor pool in San Antonio at the end of June and into July is a better option than just about any indoor venue, but I’m willing to listen.

Not sure what venue in Orlando is available that fits the criteria. After Amway, where the Magic play, the next biggest arena that I know of is the CFE Arena on the UCF campus. Just over half the size of CenturyLink, which alone probably ruins the economics of the temporary-pool-inside-a-massive-arena model. The YMCA Aquatic Center doesn’t have enough seating capacity for even half of the participants, let alone spectators.

Admin
Reply to  Braden Keith
5 years ago

Greensboro could be a possibility, in that they could put a temporary pool in the Coliseum and use the GAC in the same complex for warmup/warmdown space. Might involve coming up with some kind of tram/transport system to get athletes from the GAC to the coliseum itself (too far of a walk to be reasonable), but that seems like a relatively minor complication.

On the other hand, not sure that the Greensboro solution offers a ton of upside as compared to an Omaha solution where they add an additional 50m warmup pool. It’s much more difficult to travel to, especially for people from the west coast. I believe Omaha has more hotel rooms (though Greensboro is about to open 5… Read more »

Maddie
Reply to  Joel Lin
5 years ago

What about the IUPUI? It has held big events, although smaller than OT, like duel in the pool.

Years of Plain Suck
5 years ago

The end of the “Phelps Era” has its consequences. This is one of them.

Paul
5 years ago

Omaha doesn’t work anymore. Not large enough given current layout. Warm up pools were grossly overcrowded. Not a good situation for such a critical meet. Need a larger venue with two 50m warm up pools plus a 25 yard pool for starts. Yes, Omaha has been great. But it’s time to move forward. Btw, Other option is to tighten cuts. Which isn’t likely.

Uberfan
5 years ago

This is huge news

Ice age swimmer
5 years ago

Bummer. I hope Omaha can host the OTs again someday. I attended this year and thought they did an amazing job.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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