U.S. Figure Skating Championships Sees Drop In Attendance; Omaha Praised As Host City
Attendance for the Jan. 20-27 U.S. Figure Skating Championships at CenturyLink Center in Omaha "was 90,760," which is down from the 102,619 at last year's championships in San Jose, Calif., and "well off the record-setting attendance" of 158,170 at the '10 event in Spokane, Wash., according to a front-page piece by Erin Golden of the OMAHA WORLD-HERALD. USFS Exec Dir David Raith said that big numbers "aren't essential for a successful event -- or a requirement if a city wants to host again." Throughout this year's event, skaters, coaches and fans "raved about the venue, the volunteers and the setup of the competition." But early in the week, local organizers were "concerned about the number of empty seats in the arena, wondering what it might mean for the city's hopes of hosting future skating competitions." Omaha Sports Commission President Harold Cliff said that "walk-up ticket sales had jumped" yesterday. He added that there could be "a number of explanations for why fans didn't turn out in the numbers they did for the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials in 2008 and 2012." For one, the U.S. Championships in '14 will "serve as the qualifying event for the Winter Olympic Games." In Olympic years, interest is "always higher." Local organizers have "talked about making a play for skating's 2016 World Championships, and haven't written off that idea." The U.S. Championships in '17 and '18 are "still up for grabs." Raith said that Omaha "could be a viable contender" (OMAHA WORLD-HERALD, 1/28).