Jacksonville Drops Bid For 2016 Olympic Swimming Trials

Mar 6, 2013

1.15.2013 Veterans' Memorial Arena: Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown announces city's decision to bid for swimming trials.
Credit Cyd Hoskinson / WJCT

Jacksonville is bowing out of the running to host the 2016 Olympic Swimming Trials because of a lack of adequate seating.

In its bid for the 2016 swimming trials, Executive Director of Jacksonville Sports and Entertainment Alan Verlander says the city promised to build a temporary, above-ground, Olympic-sized pool in Veterans' Memorial Arena.

"And a lot of people have asked how do you construct a pool in an arena?  Don't you have to be creative.  And my answer to that is, well, we constructed a basketball arena on the deck of an aircraft carrier.  If we can do that, we can master building a pool in an arena."

The real problem, as it turns out, would have been the pool's size.

"Where the swimmers dive-in off the blocks is at the top of the backboard of a basketball goal.  So if you go into our arena, that's about the fifth or sixth row that we would have had to kill."

And, having to make-do with just twelve-thousand of the arena's fifteen-thousand seats turned out to be the deal breaker.

"We had to get creative with a lot of our bid and U.S.A. Swimming was very pleased with our creativity.  But at the end of the day it comes down to a revenue factor and, you know, we had the least amount of seats of any city that bid."

In the meantime, Verlander says, the city will concentrate on the sporting events it's already got going on including a kids' triathlon and two major fishing tournaments.