FORT LAUDERDALE, September 29. THE International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) and partner Swerdlow Real Estate Group, in collaboration with six Olympic sports — USA Badminton, USA Diving, USA Table Tennis, U.S. Team Handball, USA Volleyball and U.S. Water Polo — won the right to build the new ISHOF, a national training center and needed condominiums in Pompano Beach, Florida. After almost two years of analysis, the Pompano Beach commissioners voted to approve the project on September 24, 2002.
In order to comply with Florida State Law 163, the city of Pompano Beach had to accept bids for other projects. Seriously considered was one other bid that proposed using the same lands as the ISHOF/Swerdlow project for about the same number of condominiums and amenities including a public park that was intended to serve as an attraction that would help revitalize Pompano’s beach area. Most of the commissioners agreed that having a national training center in association with the International Swimming Hall of Fame complex would generate much more interest in and benefits for Pompano than the proposed park.
Pompano Beach’s Mayor Bill Griffin exuberantly voiced his affirmative opinion, "Unequivocally, this project is the best thing that ever happened to Pompano Beach."
Sands Harbor Resort owner Charles Sykes added that he caught a little glimpse of what sports can provide for Pompano Beach when the USA National Volleyball Team stayed at his hotel while they were in the area competing against the Italian Olympic Team in a series hosted by ISHOF. It was an exciting and uplifting experience – what Pompano needs, as he explained it.
After USA’s third match, beating the highly ranked Italian team, USA players attended the meeting to thank the commissioners for voting to provide a training center that will enrich the community and be utilized by various role models from Olympic sports.
The national training center, coupled with ISHOF, will be a unique complex that is privately endowed to cover operational expenses. Each National Governing Body for the six Olympic sports and ISHOF, Inc. will receive individual endowments as well. Projected are unlimited numbers of media mentions for Pompano Beach, numerous television shows and an estimated 40,000 – 80,000 room nights per year.
John Webb, the sports development officer for the Broward County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said, "This is huge, what a coup. This will have a great economic impact for Broward County – six Olympic sports having a training center here is terrific."
The International Swimming Hall of Fame has formed a committee headed by Olympic swimming great, ISHOF Hall of Famer and board member Jon Henricks (AUS) to further fundraise. "We want to provide additional endowment funding to ensure that the new museum and library will be the very best," he said. "It is an awesome task and responsibility that we have to properly fund the museum and library in order to better honor the great aquatic heroes, past, present and future, and to serve the world aquatic community. Our hope is to provide ISHOF with sufficient funds so that it will be self-sustaining for many years to come. We’re beginning the fundraising campaign immediately and I’m confident that it will be very successful."
The proposed five-story complex will have 100,000 square feet of training space, a 15,000 square foot museum with equal storage space, a 10,000 square foot library, two 55-meter adjustable pools, a spectacular diving facility and a teaching/therapy pool.
ISHOF president and CEO Dr. Sam Freas said, "There are many bells and whistles that will make this facility one of the best in the world. We hope to provide services for the people of South Florida that are unique and to bring major events to the area while we continue to honor our Hall of Famers through the new museum, art gallery and annual events.
"We went for the homerun and it appears that we hit it out of the ballpark. I’m very grateful to the ISHOF board of directors for their tenacity during this process. They know, as I do, that all Pompano residents, especially those who reside on the beach, will benefit greatly from this calling card, and we’re hoping they will become our greatest champions in this endeavor."