Santa Clara Hopes to Lure Swimming Hall of Fame with New Aquatics Center

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Santa Clara wants to build a new $60 million complex to replace its aging swim center, boosting the city's chances of becoming home of the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Robert Handa reports.

    Santa Clara wants to build a new $60 million complex to replace its aging swim center, boosting the city's chances of becoming home of the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

    The city’s International Swim Center is a big part of the sport's history – swimmers who trained there have earned 71 Olympic medals -- but it is showing its age.

    The center's tribute to legendary coach George Haines and its hall of fame swimmers is underwhelming. Former athlete and coach Cynthia Owens says the facility is even worse.

    "The infrastructure underneath the ground has deteriorated to beyond the point of being repaired,” Owens said.

    Santa Clara and a community group called the Silicon Valley Aquatics Initiative have launched a drive to build the new complex on three acres of land across the street from the old swim center.

    Renderings of plans shown exclusively to NBC Bay Area by ELS Architecture and Urban Design show an impressive complex that would include a huge stadium to host events that bring in crowds, revenue and prestige. It would also be a high-tech facility that, among other things, generates energy.

    "So we may be able to power the library, for instance, with the energy we make here,” said Clarence Mamuyac, ELS president and CEO.

    Santa Clara is competing to be the home of the International Swim Hall OF Fame, which is leaving South Florida. The hall of fame’s president told NBC Bay Area Santa Clara's new complex would help its chances considerably.

    Owens insists the facilities at the new center will be “for everyone,” not just “elite athletes.”

    “There are very few elite athletes in the world,” Owens said. “Most of us are pretty average.”

    City officials are now looking over the new drawings. The next step over the next few months is to make sure it meets environmental -- as well as Hall of Fame -- standards.