Federal Way makes bid to host 2011 men's NCAA swim meet

The King County Aquatic Center hosted the 2008 NCAA Men’s Championships. The city hopes to land the same event in 2011 after submitting a bid on Wednesday.  - Casey Olson/The Mirror
The King County Aquatic Center hosted the 2008 NCAA Men’s Championships. The city hopes to land the same event in 2011 after submitting a bid on Wednesday.
— image credit: Casey Olson/The Mirror

The Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center and the City of Federal Way are hoping to host the 2011 NCAA Division I Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships.

The city submitted a bid to host about 1,000 of the best swimmers and divers from around the country Wednesday. Federal Way and the Aquatic Center hosted the same event last spring and hope to get in the NCAA’s regular rotation.

“This is a pretty big deal as far as having a national meet here,” said Patrick Doherty, the city’s director of economic development. “We hope to get it. This is something that should be here every three or four years. It’s perfect for our venue.”

The NCAA should make a decision on where the 2011 swimming and diving championships will be held within the next month. It’s also unclear what other cities submitted bids, according to Doherty. The McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion on the campus of Ohio State University is hosting the 2010 championships.

“It was a very last-minute thing,” he said. “We put the bid together in about a 24-hour period.”

The city is partnering with the Seattle Sports Commission, who will serve as the host organization if Federal Way is awarded the 2011 championships.

The Seattle Sports Commission promotes, attracts and develops sports and recreational events with the purpose of enhancing economic prosperity in the Puget Sound region. The group also served as the host of last year’s event.

“They realize the value and economic impact of an event like this,” Doherty said. “But they thought the cost was going to be too high for them.”

So that is when the city’s lodging tax advisory committee stepped in and vowed to commit $30,000 to the bid proposal. The city gave $10,000 to host last year’s NCAA championships, according to Doherty.

The larger commitment this time around stems from King County raising its usage rates on the Aquatic Center. The county informed Federal Way and the Seattle Sports Commission it would charge $60,000 in 2011, compared to the $40,000 charged for the 2008 NCAA meet.

The money will be coming from the city’s 1 percent hotel/motel tax, which is not a tax Federal Way citizens pay for.

“This is other people’s money,” Doherty said. “And it can only be used to offer funding for economic generating events that promote tourism in Federal Way. It just made sense to provide this subsidy for a great event like this. People will spend far more than $30,000 in Federal Way during this competition.”

The aquatic center, which is operated by King County, is no stranger to hosting national and international swimming and diving events. The facility was built to accommodate the 1990 Goodwill Games swimming and diving events and can seat up to 2,500 spectators.

Over 200 national and world records have been established in the pool.

Doherty also revealed that Federal Way and the Aquatic Center will, most likely, be making a bid to host the 2012 United States Olympic Diving Trials.

The city applied to host the 2008 diving trials, but was beaten out by Indianapolis. Bids are due in January, according to Doherty.

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