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New athletic facility to be built at HCC


© St. Petersburg Times, published October 10, 2000

TAMPA -- Hillsborough Community College, the City of Tampa, USA Swimming and the Tampa Sports Authority unveiled plans Monday to construct a $60 million state-of-the-art educational and athletic facility on HCC's North Dale Mabry campus.

The facility, which could go a long way toward addressing some of the city's recreational needs, would also feature an enclosed, Olympic-size pool and diving well with seating for up to 7,500 fans.

The venue, which could open as soon as 2003, would be capable of hosting a major national or international swimming event (possibly the 2004 Olympic swimming trials).

The swimming facility, however, is just one facet of a larger site, which will include classroom and lab space, a fitness center, therapeutic pools, a food court, child-care facilities, a multipurpose room and office space.

HCC President Gwendolyn Stephenson said the school has been planning for expansion at the Dale Mabry campus "the past several years." She added that it was exciting that the school would be able "to meet much of the education and work force training, athletic and recreational needs of the community under one roof."

Brandon Blue Wave Swim Club coach Peter Banks, who has guided Valrico's Brooke Bennett to three Olympic gold medals, said he couldn't agree more with the concept.

"There would really be no other facility like it in the country, and I think anyone involved in sports would enjoy it," Banks said. "It would also be very appealing in that you could host national and international swimming events in Tampa."

The facility is not designed specifically to host the Olympic swimming finals, but it could help with Olympic swimming preliminaries or possibly water polo matches, which could further enhance Florida 2012's bid to land the summer Olympics in central Florida.

Banks said four swimming facilities were used at the Sydney Olympics.

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