Future is Now For US Olympic Water Polo Program; Irvine Approves New Aquatics Center

A new aquatics facility in Irvine, California will become the permanent home of the U.S. men's and women's water polo program. Photo Courtesy: USA Water Polo

With a vote yesterday by the Orange County Great Park Board and the Irvine City Council, plans and funding were approved for a new aquatics center in the heart of Irvine. The primary beneficiary of vote—final hurdle in a process that has been years in the making—is USA Water Polo, the national governing body for the sport in America, which will manage and operate the new facility.

usawpThe complex—which will become the permanent home to the U.S. National Teams as well as the organization’s High Performance Programs—represents a long-term goal of Chris Ramsey, CEO for USA Water Polo.

“I’m excited for what the future’s going to look like,” Ramsey said in remarks after the vote was made official. “Even when we’re all gone there’s going to be future generations of water polo players growing up here and their lives are going to be richer for it.”

According to Alicia Robinson, who reported the story for the Orange County Register, the center is part of a $250 million that will complete the sports-focused western quadrant of Orange County Great Park. The bulk of project funding will be provided by borrowing against future taxes homeowners will pay toward the area’s community facilities.


Photo Courtesy: USA Water Polo

Projected construction costs for the aquatics center will exceed $50 million; in a statement emailed to its members USA Water Polo explained that it has already secured pledges in the amount of $10 million. The statement stressed that no member dollars will be used to fund or maintain the project.

Not only is the proposed facility intended as a permanent training base for the men’s and women’s Olympic teams that for decades have been temporary guests in a variety of public and private pools in the SoCal region, it will almost certainly be the polo venue for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

Ideally it will be in service for Olympic water polo opportunities sooner than the end of next decade. With financing now in place, officials will finalize the water polo facility’s design with the hope of beginning construction in early 2021. According to Ramsey, that will provide ample time for the men’s and women’s national teams to move in and begin training for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

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3 years ago