BC-US--Swim Trials-Taxpayer Tab,1st Ld-Writethru, US
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Omaha has pledged $750,000 in taxpayer money to cover some of USA Swimming’s more than $3 million in costs to host the 2020 U.S. Olympic Swim Trials.
The City Council approved a plan Tuesday to make the second of three annual $250,000 payments to the Omaha Sports Commission for USA Swimming, the Omaha World-Herald reported.
The money was needed to ensure that the trials will still be held in Omaha after one of the organization’s largest corporate sponsors, Mutual of Omaha, scaled back its support, according to city officials. The insurance company cut ties with USA Swimming in 2016, the same year that Omaha hosted the quadrennial event for the third consecutive time.
Josh Todd, the Omaha Sports Commission’s executive director, said the city’s funding is helping offset a drop in sponsorships and donations that often accompanies hosting repeated events in a city.
Regional tourism officials estimated that the 2016 swimming trials had a local economic impact of about $74 million.
Councilman Brinker Harding said investing $750,000 to secure $74 million is a “no-brainer.”
Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert noted that the national event drew 200,000 fans in 2016, as well as international media coverage.
“Omaha is proud and fortunate to host the Olympic Swim Trials for the fourth time in 2020,” Stothert said. “The city’s financial support demonstrates our pride and ongoing commitment to Olympic athletes and the fans that support their athletic achievements.”
USA Swimming spokeswoman Belle McLemore declined to comment on the city’s contribution.