It could be an Olympic-size boost for sports in Jacksonville, and the city is now one step closer.
Jacksonville has made the “top 6” cut of cities competing for the 2016 Olympic swim trials, which would be hosted at Veteran’s Memorial Arena. While the city wasn’t sure how many had originally entered for the games, reps are excited about still being in the fight.
“To showcase our city on a global stage would be tremendous,” says Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown.
But even more than showcasing the city, the event is projected to bring a lot of economic benefits. In 2008, the trials in Omaha brought that city $23 million. Jacksonville’s Sports and Entertainment Director Alan Verlander told me we could expect a higher sum.
“People are tailgating, people are getting there early in the morning and staying late at night it is a passionate group,” he says.
He says one thing Jacksonville brings that other competitors, like Omaha or Greenboro, NC don’t is a range of activities outside of the event itself. He says the arena would be packed- but the beaches, river and other attractions will both help boost the bid and provide other areas for those who attend the trials to spend.
Of course it’s not all benefit. While the city put down no upfront money with the bid, Brown says it’s impossible to tell how much it would ultimately cost.
“No one knows what the bottom line’s gunna be, you have to negotiate,” he says.
That cost would be shared by US Swim, and Verlander says a lot of it would eventually be offset by ticket sales and other revenue streams.
One of the biggest sources of money after the fact, would actually be the center of the event.
“There’s people all over the country that want Olympic pools or pools that Olympians have swam in,” he says.
He tells me cities who have hosted trials in the past and built a pool like we would do have almost always been able to sell the pool after the fact for a profit.
So they’re now counting on you- Jacksonville’s swim fans, Olympic fans, sports fans or people just looking to bring a fun event for a week- to spread the word through social media that Jacksonville wants the trials. There will be a site visit at the Arena in the next few weeks with a final decision on who gets the trials in April, and your city wants to show its support in any way possible.