When the SwimMAC’s Arena Pro Swim Series event ends Sunday, it will leave a big question in its wake:
Will the popular swimming event return to the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center next year?
The uptown facility closes on June 1 for one year to undergo $8.6 million in renovations, work approved by voters in a 2008 bond issue.
Officials say wide-ranging improvements, from the filtration system to the locker rooms and bleachers, are sorely needed at the outdated facility, which opened in 1991.
Manager Genni Reel explained why she’s hopeful the project will be finished in time for the 2016 event, held each May. The competition has been at the center every year since it opened, and next year’s meet will be highly anticipated in the run-up to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
What’s the problem?
Reel says all the pool’s mechanics need to be addressed, and the facility is essentially patched together. “We’re making sure it runs, but really it could go out at any time,” Reel says. “We’re going to be crossing our fingers because if it goes out during a major event like the Grand Prix, it’s going to impact us.”
Will the work be finished in time for the next Grand Prix?
“That’s our plan,” Reel says. She says the work could actually be done in as soon as 8 months.
What if it’s not?
SwimMAC expects to once again host the meet next year at the aquatic center. Says spokeswoman Angel Trimble: “We’ll be prepared in the event that the renovations take longer than anticipated, but we expect to be back at MCAC next May.”
Where will the community swim during repairs?
That’s a big challenge, Reel says. The aquatic center, on East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, had 271,000 visits last year, and Charlotte lacks enough pool space as it is. Aquatic center members can use other county aquatic facilities, such as Marion Diehl pool and Ray’s Splash Planet. Monthly fees will also be reduced. (For instance, monthly adult resident fees will drop from $41 to $25.)
Grand Prix Tickets
SwimMAC’s Arena Pro Series at Charlotte will run through Sunday at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center. General admission tickets are available for all sessions. Go to arenaproswimcharlotte.com for more information. Updates also on Twitter (@ArenaProChar) and on the Arena Pro Swim Series at Charlotte’s Facebook page.