Updated October 21 with official press release
FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida, October 18. TODAY, International Swimming Hall of Fame CEO Bruce Wigo told members of the ISHOF Advisory Board that ISHOF would not be renewing its relationship with the City of Fort Lauderdale. On Monday, Oct. 21, ISHOF confirmed the plan publicly with a press release shown below.
In a long-brewing story with ISHOF courting various suitors while still trying to set something up with its longtime home, Wigo finally pulled the trigger to end ISHOF’s relationship with the city. ISHOF might wind up in Southern California with San Diego having made a serious run.
The Hall of Fame started in Fort Lauderdale in 1965, and its 50-year contract with the city ends in 2015. Various cities have expressed interest in hosting the ISHOF headquarters, as well as any branches that would be based on several thematic elements.
ISHOF Press Release
FORT LAUDERDALE — The International Swimming Hall of Fame, Inc., (ISHOF) announced today that upon the expiration of its current fifty-year agreement with the City of Fort Lauderdale, in February of 2015, it will not renew and will look for a new home in another city.
Established in 1965, in the City of Fort Lauderdale, ISHOF was the first “International” and one of the first “Amateur” sports hall of fame museums in the world. Recognized by FINA, the international governing body for the Olympic aquatic sports, the presence of the ISHOF museum has long been regarded as making Fort Lauderdale the Mecca of the world of competitive aquatics. The ISHOF museum houses the most comprehensive collection of aquatic related memorabilia and art in the world. ISHOF’s Henning Library is an international research resource and the organization’s induction ceremonies annually attract the leadership and leading personalities of the Olympic sports of swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming, and the global leaders of lifesaving, learn-to-swim, aquatic recreation and aquatic wellness.
“This was a very emotional and difficult decision for our organization to make,” says ISHOF CEO Bruce Wigo. “Fort Lauderdale has provided us with a wonderful home for almost fifty years and we had high hopes and great expectations to be part of a new Hall of Fame Aquatic Complex in this City. However, we have come to realize that the problems we have had with the City since at least 2000, and which we have been unable to resolve since, stem from the fact that our organization’s vision of the future and the City’s vision for their new Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex are not in alignment.”
“I want to thank City Manager Lee Feldman for his thoughtful and considerable efforts to work with us on design changes and mutually beneficial terms might have made it possible for us to maintain a presence in this City,” says Wigo. “But in the end, we concluded that the compromises to our vision and business model that we would have had to make were not in the best interests of our organization. Therefore we have decided to close this chapter of our history and focus on finding a new home in another city that shares or vision.”
“We believe this difficult decision will give us the opportunity to bring new excitement and energy to both ISHOF and the swimming community as a whole. It will allow us to re-invent ourselves as a modern museum in a way that will rely upon the knowledge and expertise of our membership to create an exciting and interesting attraction that will appeal and be of interest to not only to millions of casual, recreational and competitive swimmers of the world, but to the multitudes of non-swimmers who we believe should be learning to swim for water safety, drowning prevention, better health and a better quality of life.”
“ISHOF’s Board of Directors wish to express their thanks and sincere gratitude and appreciation to the citizens of the City of Fort Lauderdale for all the support they have given to our organization for the past fifty years.”