Iowa City to offer pitch for 2012 Olympic Trials
The delegation leading the charge to bring the Olympic Trials to Iowa City will deliver its pitch today to officials at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.*
Iowa City was selected last month as one of three finalists to host the 2012 Olympic Trials in wrestling and weightlifting. The group spearheading the effort will outline its case this morning during a 75-minute presentation to officials from the United States Olympic Committee and USA Wrestling, underlining the wrestling crowds the event could attract in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.* *
?First and foremost, it?s got to be all about attendance and the ability to attract a great crowd and create an atmosphere that starts momentum towards London,? said Josh Schamberger, the president of the Iowa City/Coralville Arena Convention and Visitor?s Bureau, which helped submit the area?s bid for the event. ?The momentum certainly will begin and can begin best in Iowa City.?
Council Bluffs and Columbus, Ohio, are the other two finalists in the running to land the event, which is scheduled for April 19-21, 2012. The host city is expected to be named next week.
?We have to communicate very well that this is a unique place for wrestling,? Iowa coach Tom Brands said. ?Our fans and the community are excited about it, and it is the best place. It?s a slam dunk if we communicate it the right way. That?s how I feel. I?m not saying it?s automatic, but we?ve got to do our job.?
The Iowa City delegation includes some heavy hitters in wrestling. Legendary former Iowa coach Dan Gable and Brands were Olympic gold medalists. Local businessman Lincoln McIlravy claimed a bronze medal in 2000. Cornell College coach Mike Duroe has been part of the U.S. Olympic freestyle coaching staff since 1996.*
Schamberger said the group traveling to Colorado Springs also includes Iowa City mayor Matt Hayek, Iowa assistant athletics director Les Steenlage, Matt Getz of UI athletics event management and Anissa Wolfe of the Iowa City/Coralville Arena Convention and Visitor?s Bureau.
?All the pieces are there,? Schamberger said. ?I?m just hopeful we?re able to communicate our team is ready and we?re very excited.?
The attendance generated by Brands? program is a feather in Iowa City?s cap. The Hawkeyes have been college wrestling?s biggest box office draw during the past four seasons. In fact, Iowa?s average crowd during that stretch (7,585) more than doubled every other program in the country. Iowa State was second in attendance during that time with an average crowd of 3,482.
The Hawkeyes pulled in 8,125 fans on average for home duals last season when they claimed their third consecutive NCAA title. Iowa?s best crowd last year (an announced 10,967 against Oklahoma State) was more than Ohio State drew (10,934) for its entire six-dual home schedule.
Several of the key figures in Iowa?s recent title run, including two-time NCAA champ and World Team member Brent Metcalf, have remained in Iowa City to continue training for a run at the London Games.
?You?re telling me those 8,100 people that we averaged don?t want to see Brent Metcalf wrestle again?? Iowa administrative assistant Luke Eustice said. ?I find it hard to believe they don?t want to see him wrestle again.
?Do you want to watch Mike Zadick? Do you want to watch Daniel Dennis, Brent Metcalf, the guys you haven?t got to see in a while who were huge Hawkeye names? Here?s your chance. That?s a pretty big draw ? in my mind.?