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Aquatics center proponents ready to start building

By Staff | Oct 2, 2009

The NSCC Premier Aquatic Center has been funded and could be built in north Cape Coral in the near future, according to a speaker at Thursday night’s Capeopoly event.
John McIlhargy, with project development for USA Swimming and with the board of directors for the nonprofit National Swim Center Corporation, spoke at the annual event hosted by the Cape Coral Council for Progress.
McIlhargy said he has spent the past five years looking and planning for the next generation of aquatic centers in the United States, which will be built in the Cape.
“We have transferred the funds and are ready to move as fast as we can,” he said, adding that the quicker they start, the faster they can build it and host events.
McIlhargy said they need to break ground now so they can host events scheduled for 2012, which he is very committed to having take place at the Cape aquatic center.
His organization has asked for donations, which amount to approximately 30 percent of the costs of the building from Lee County and city. He added that if need be, they will finance the difference so the community does not feel a tax impact.
“The aquatic center will not impact the community with tax rates or a financial impact,” McIlhargy said.
The two million gallons of swimming pools would be a day-to-day community resource facility, which McIlhargy said is a great resource to have due to Florida having the highest rate of drowning in the United States.
He said the center would provide service seven days a week for at least 12-14 hours per day.
The indoor center, which would be in the shape of a dome, is large but energy efficient, McIlhargy explained. It would be at least 30 percent less expensive to run due to it running on solar power.
He said the center would have a Rowdy Gains private swim school, which will be open to the public.
“We are excited to have him here, he is the voice of swimming,” McIlhargy said.
The center would also feature an International Swimming Hall of Fame, which would present swimming history.
McIlhargy explained that they are looking to add a riverwalk concept, which would create more canal usage by building along it and keep spectators close to the center during long sporting events.
He said the center would have a water mitigation system for the 364-foot dome, which would use recycled rain water for the pools.
The facility would also qualify as a hurricane structure. It is in the process of going through the correct permits to make it official.
“The Aquatic Center has found a home in the city of Cape Coral,” said Jeff Mielke, Lee County Sports Authority, executive director.
He said the center would have a potential impact of approximately $21 million for approximately 12 swimming events. The number of hotel rooms sold will be approximately 65,704, bringing in approximately 24,857 spectators.
The center would have the opportunity to host such events like collegiate winter team training, USA Swimming Junior Nationals, USA Swimming US Open and NCAA Winter Carnival.
Many of the events would rotate in and out in different years, providing the opportunity to host such events like the USA Swimming Olympic Trials, sectional meets, Grand Prix events, NCAA swimming and diving and National Championships.
“Not only can this facility have an economic impact for this community, but it will give the community an identity,” Mielke said.
He added that it would provide a brand name for the community.
Mayor Jim Burch said the aquatic center would help the city strive.
“Cape Coral will work with you to make this happen,” he said at the end of McIlhargy’s presentation.
The complex, close to the size of Germain Arena in Fort Myers, would be built in multi-phases.