Tag Archives: USA Triathlon

Bringing it Home

August 1, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Hordes of the nation’s top triathletes will descend on Carter Lake this summer. They will compete for a national title at the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships on Aug. 13-14.

Top finishers in the two-day event’s Olympic-Distance National Championship (Aug. 13) and the Sprint National Championship (Aug. 14) will be invited to join Team USA at the 2017 world championships in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Although the running, biking, and swimming events will revolve around Carter Lake, Omaha was the force behind the successful bid to host the event for 2016 and 2017. Triathletes will be reminded of Omaha’s national sports hub status as the running course turns around inside TD Ameritrade Park, home of the College World Series.

Coordination and collaboration of services among the Mayor’s Office; Fire, Police, and Public Works Departments; and other city infrastructure players were vital in landing this event—USA Triathlon’s largest and longest-running national championships event—as well as other major sporting events throughout the past decade.

This triathlon is expected to bring roughly 10,000 people and an estimated $10-12 million in hotel and food sales to metro Omaha during the weekend.

Triathlon1Race Omaha, which pitched Omaha as a future host site more than two years ago (when the event was celebrating year two of its three years in Milwaukee), has been the major coordinating force behind Omaha’s bid since the beginning.

Because of past and current events, USA Triathlon—which sponsors the championship—knew the metro area could more than support an event of this caliber. Those events include the College World Series, Olympic Swimming Trials, NCAA basketball, NCAA volleyball, and the U.S. Figure
Skating Championships.

“Because we’ve successfully brought in and held big events in the past, there was no doubt we could handle an event like U.S. Age Group National Championships,” says former Race Omaha Race Director Kurt Beisch. “We have this event this year and next year, and then USA Triathlon will decide where to take it next. We just want everyone coming to town for this event to have a great experience and learn what a great community we have here.”

The cooperation of city services was only one of many incentives that lured the triathlon and other events to the metro over the past decade (or in the case of the College World Series, since 1950).

According to USA Triathlon National Events Senior Manager Brian D’Amico, there were multiple factors that went into choosing Omaha over several other cities: geographic location, accommodations, and the history of hosting successful national sporting events.

But in his and USA Triathlon’s expert opinions, there is one intangible that drew them to Omaha: the people.

“We love Omaha’s central location in the United States, which makes it easily accessible from both coasts as well as the entire country,” D’Amico says. “We love that Carter Lake (site of the event headquarters and venue for the swimming leg of the triathlon) is so close to the airport, and the city has worked so hard to welcome us.

“But what we really noticed during our site visit was how friendly and welcoming everyone in Omaha is. We love how supportive the community has always been of the College World Series, Swim Trials, and other events. They really enjoy having visitors in town, and they go out of their way to make them feel welcome. That’s something you can’t measure or control, so it’s a definite advantage.”

The two-day event is divided into two race distances—Olympic on Saturday and sprint on Sunday. These distances both feature the traditional legs of a triathlon: a swim (at Carter Lake), followed by biking, and finally, a run through Omaha’s city streets, culminating with a turn at TD Ameritrade Park before returning to Carter Lake.

The Olympic portion features a 1,500-meter open water swim, followed by a 40K bike ride with a 10K run. Sunday’s sprint version is half the distance of all three legs.

Race Omaha founder Alan Kohll says whether you have attended or participated in previous triathlons, many things will help keep spectators and fans engaged—including an expo near the event headquarters.

As a perk, Oriental Trading Co. will hand out cowbells and thunder sticks to spectators who will motivate the athletes as they traverse through the course by water, bike, and foot. There will also be 5k and 1k runs on Friday night for everyone not participating in the triathlons.

Kohll says the triathlon events will definitely carry an Omaha flavor.

“We’re not attempting to mimic what’s been done in Milwaukee or past cities that hosted this event,” Kohll says. He and Beisch are both competitive triathletes.

“We want people from other parts of the country to leave Omaha having learned more about what makes the community special—the zoo, Berkshire Hathaway, and Omaha Steaks, among many others. These are some things Omaha is known for, and we want to emphasize them.”

Visit raceomaha.com for more information.

Why Not Omaha?

June 16, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Just as it has been for the past 65 years, Omaha—especially downtown—will be hopping this summer.

Since 1950, the city has been known as home base for the College World Series—first at Rosenblatt, and for the past five years at TD Ameritrade Park.

But throughout the past 10-plus years—largely since downtown welcomed the CenturyLink Center in 2003—events and entertainment opportunities have exploded.

During that time, Omaha has hosted two (soon to be three) Olympic Swim Trials for USA Swimming at the C-Link, bringing thousands of people from throughout the country to River City.

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Prior to their arrival, many swimmers, visitors, and family members think of Omaha as a cow town (seriously, some think cows literally walk the streets). But once they arrive and see the majesty and versatility of the arena, complemented by the restaurants, shops, and other activities within walking distance, they gain a new perspective about the city.

So what makes Omaha such a growing Mecca for events like the College World Series, Swim Trials, or USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships (coming to town this August)? Or first- and second-round NCAA men’s basketball games? Or the NCAA Women’s Volleyball National Championships last year and in past years?

Why Omaha instead of sports towns like San Antonio or St. Louis?

Maybe the better question is “Why not?”

“Omaha is the perfect host city for these kinds of events for several reasons, but the biggest reason is the people who live here,” says College World Series of Omaha Inc. Director of Marketing and Events Dan Morrissey. “People in the Omaha area embrace events like the College World Series and Olympic Trials even if they aren’t sports fans.

“During the CWS, there is always a small contingent of fans cheering for their teams, but TD Ameritrade Park seats 24,000—and the majority of spectators are from the area. They are there because they enjoy and support the event. It’s really a matter of pride for people in Omaha.”

Omaha is also considered a jewel for big-name events because of geographic location, ease of
traffic and transportation, and proximity to the airport, among other amenities.

But buildings like the Century Link Center and TD Ameritrade Park—versatile, state-of-the-art venues—have opened doors to top events that would have been too big or sophisticated for the Civic Auditorium to properly host.

After many years at Rosenblatt Stadium, the NCAA considered relocating the CWS to another city if the powers that be in Omaha didn’t upgrade to a bigger, better facility—one that was closer to the action in downtown. TD Ameritrade Park opened as the solution in 2011 and has been a tremendous draw for fans—local and not-so-local—ever since.

The city’s commitment to keeping the CWS in town has made it possible for millions of dollars in hotel room rentals, food, transportation, and entertainment sales to impact the business community.

“Downtown is really the heartbeat of the city, and when the CWS was at Rosenblatt, it was very isolated from everything else that was happening in the growing downtown,” Morrissey says. “Moving the event to a new stadium within walking distance of restaurants, bars, shopping, and hotels greatly enhanced the overall experience. People love  coming to Omaha for the CWS.”

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People from coast to coast also have loved coming to attend the Olympic Swim Trials at the CenturyLink Center. The economic impact of the swim trials in 2012 was in the $30 million range, and this year’s trials—which has sold out almost every session and is welcoming a record number of athletes—could be around $40 million.

According to USA Swimming Assistant Executive Director Mike Unger, when USA Swimming was looking for a new spot to host the swim trials in 2008, a committee scouted several cities—and Omaha came out on top.

“We narrowed the search to two or three cities, and ultimately Omaha provided everything we needed and wanted to host a world-class event,” Unger said. “The versatility of the venue (CenturyLink Center) was a huge factor. Having a warm-down pool just steps away from the competition pool in an indoor facility is amazing.

“Very few arenas have that capability, and then having a 4-star hotel attached to the arena, and other hotels within walking distance of the arena, was a big selling point. Omaha has it all. We always feel very special when we come to Omaha.”

Another event calling Omaha home for several days this summer (and again in 2017) is the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships. Centered around competition at Carter Lake (swimming), the Missouri River trails (biking) and TD Ameritrade Park (finish of the marathon), Omaha was a great fit for the triathlon after Milwaukee hosted the past three.

A big selling point for the event to come to Omaha was the proximity of the airport to Carter Lake, where the event will be headquartered, as well as the city’s central location–within a day’s driving distance or less for the majority of the competitors and their families. Plus, the city’s ability to host larger events like the CWS and the swim trials proved Omaha could handle an event of this scope.

“Omaha really knows how to roll out the red carpet for these kinds of events; everyone involved definitely knows what they’re doing,” said USA Triathlon National Events Senior Manager Brian D’Amico. “Hotels and restaurants are all within close proximity to the lake and, with upwards of 5,000 total athletes—not to mention families, friends, officials, etc.—we needed the availability of between 2,500 and 3,000 room nights for everyone. Omaha was able to provide that and then some.”

D’Amico also referenced the tremendous backing and support from city officials in USA Triathlon’s decision to hold its event—which is expected to contribute between $11 and $12 million to city and business coffers—in Omaha.

“We received letters of support from the mayor, local sports commission, police, and other city departments committing their support to us and our athletes,” he said. “We need to have roads completely blocked off for the marathon section of the triathlon, and that takes full city support. Omaha brings that.”

Omahan Susie Sisson, who recently bought tickets for the July 1 session of this year’s Olympic Swim Trials and has attended the past two trials at the Centurylink Center, says the reason to choose Omaha begins and ends with the people and their enthusiasm for sporting events.

“People here love sports, especially amateur sports, and will buy tickets, even if they don’t know much about that particular sport,” said Sisson, a teacher at Marian High School. “These types of events always seem to be sold out, or nearly sold out, and I think that’s because people here love to feel like they’re participating in something important and exciting.

“On a practical level, the city also has a built-in infrastructure of hotels, convention space, restaurants, and tourist attractions. It’s easy for organizers and fans alike to feel welcomed and accommodated.”  Encounter

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