SBD/April 29, 2013/Events and Attractions

U.S. Swim Trials Return To Omaha For '16; AquaZone Fan Area Cited As Plus

CenturyLink Center had sellouts on three nights during the '12 Olympic Swim Trials
USA Swimming "turned down bigger cities and bigger venues in favor of bringing" the '16 U.S. Olympic Swim Trials "back to Omaha and the Century­Link Center," according to Rich Kaipust of the OMAHA WORLD-HERALD. USA Swimming Assistant Exec Dir Mike Unger said that "several factors clinched it in Omaha’s favor, primarily the setup in the city and at the CenturyLink Center and the relationships that have developed over the past eight years." Omaha "bested finalists San Antonio and St. Louis." The initial field of six "had also included" Indianapolis, Greensboro and Jacksonville. Both San Antonio and St. Louis "proposed putting" the trials "in domes, with the potential to seat 20,000 for the eight-day, 15-session event." The Century­Link Center "has a 14,000-seat arena." Unger mentioned that there were several factors in favor of Omaha, including the "location of the AquaZone fanfest area in the CenturyLink convention center." While separate from the competition pool, the area was "still under the same roof and offered easy access for fans." Omaha "might expand the AquaZone to an indoor-outdoor setup" in '16. Unger during the announcement webcast said that the "three goals for the host site were to run a technically flawless event, put on a great show and have it be financially successful for all involved." Omaha Sports Commission President Harold Cliff said that both Omaha and USA Swimming "netted better than $500,000 in profit operating as a joint venture in 2012, when total attendance was a record 167,048." Omaha had "sellout crowds for three nights last year." Unger said that one of the goals for '16 "will be to sell out all sessions." Cliff said that Omaha "emphasized new technology in the Century­Link Center during a site visit by USA Swimming in February." The building will install a $6M center-hung HD scoreboard in May that Cliff said “may give us a whole different look" (OMAHA WORLD-HERALD, 4/28).

THINK SMALL: In St. Louis, Tom Timmerman noted the city's bid losing to Omaha "may well have been a case of bigger not being better." The Edward Jones Dome would have been "downsized for the event to about 19,000," but it "still would have had the vast open spaces inherent in a domed stadium." St. Louis Sports Commission President Frank Viverito said, "We couldn't shrink the Dome" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 4/28).
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