An effort to build a new Omaha sports complex anchored by an Olympic-size pool is progressing swimmingly.
Organizers have raised about two-thirds of the money needed to buy the warm-up pool used by Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin and other Olympians during this summer's U.S. Olympic Swim Trials.
Backers have a good list of potential sites for the proposed swimming, tennis, soccer and track complex. Athletic clubs and community groups have responded enthusiastically since the effort was announced in late June, said Mike Cassling, one of the two primary civic leaders who launched the plan.
“We're working to find a home for it,” Cassling said. “There are a lot of people who want to sell us land, and a lot of people wanting ... the complex on their land.”
Organizers have multiple options and are weighing costs and benefits. Cassling said several sites have emerged since the announcement, including interest from “a number of schools.”
University of Nebraska at Omaha land south of Center Street is still a potential site. Discussions continue with UNO officials, Cassling said.
Organizers, who created a nonprofit corporation to own and operate the complex, also are working on the business particulars and have hired a consultant to help, he said.
Once they've demonstrated how it will cash flow, they'll begin raising the estimated $13 million — depending on costs of the 20-acre site and other variables — to erect the complex. They hope to start construction in 2014.
The facility would house a 52-meter pool with two movable bulkheads, allowing the pool to be configured at 50 meters, 25 meters or 25 yards.
Plans call for possible seating for 1,800 to 2,000 in the pool facility. That would allow Omaha to go after events on the scale of a USA Swimming Grand Prix, along with regional and national meets.
Universities, high schools, swim and tennis clubs, and other organizations could use the complex. And the community appears receptive, Cassling said.
He said the enthusiasm has come from beyond the expected swimming and tennis circles.
“Everybody I've talked to is excited about it,” Cassling said.
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