Omaha has not yet filed its proposal to host the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials, but that has more to do with unknown dates than lack of interest on the city's part.
The USA Swimming deadline for cities to file a “request for proposal” is Dec. 21. The date could be pushed back, Omaha Sports Commission President Harold Cliff said, if USA Swimming does not find out soon what 2016 date FINA sets for entries being due for the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“We're definitely fully interested and definitely interested in putting together a strong bid, and see where it lands,” Cliff said.
There appeared to be some hesitance last summer about Omaha's potential interest in going after the U.S. Trials a third time — it hosted the event in 2008 and 2012. Some factors included the challenge of improving on two previous meets, the amount of time the pools tie up the CenturyLink Center, the retirement of Michael Phelps and the possible intent of USA Swimming to move its marquee event around.
However, Cliff said, “letting the dust settle really helped people have a clear vision of what we wanted to do,” as the U.S. Trials again went over well in the community and provided another significant economic impact for the city in 2012.
Also, with Omaha and USA Swimming operating in a joint venture in 2012, both sides netted better than $500,000 in profit as the eight-day, 15-session meet drew a record 167,048 fans. That figure for Omaha in 2008 was about $150,000 despite attendance being 160,063.
Cliff said it was during a recent Omaha Sports Commission executive meeting that it was “made very clear by everybody that we'd wish to do it again.” Cliff said that also included strong support from the state, city and Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce.
As of now, the possible dates for 2016 could be July 4 to July 11, which Cliff said would be ideal for Omaha to distance the U.S. Trials from the College World Series. The dates were June 25 to July 2 last summer, and included a one-night overlap with the CWS.
“The dates proposed would be wonderful for us — and I think that's what USA Swimming wants and NBC wants — so I'm not anticipating a big change,” Cliff said. “But obviously until you get it, you're not going to bid on a wish.”
The Summer Olympics are scheduled to begin on Aug. 5 in 2016. That date was July 27 for the 2012 London Games.
Because the U.S. Trials dates have not been set, Cliff said he wasn't sure how it would affect interest of other cities. As many as a dozen could file RFPs, including Jacksonville, Fla.; Greensboro, N.C.; and Louisville, Ky.
Cliff said he talked with officials from several cities Monday night at the annual Golden Goggles swimming awards ceremony in New York.
“I have not heard of anyone taking themselves out of the picture,” he said. “The dates just might have some bearing on it.”
Among other events, Cliff said Omaha potentially could bid on the 2016 World Figure Skating Championships, a possible follow-up to hosting the 2013 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. The 2012 World Figure Skating Championships were held in March in Nice, France, and the 2013 event will be in London, Ontario.
Any interest in the 2016 U.S. Gymnastics Trials likely will depend on Omaha's pursuit of the 2016 Swim Trials because they run at similar times. RFPs for the 2016 Gymnastics Trials don't come out until next fall.
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