INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Lucas Oil Stadium is ready to make a splash in its swimming debut.

On Wednesday, organizers and sponsors showed off the transformation of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts’ home stadium into the world’s largest swimming venue with two 1 million-gallon pools for next week’s U.S. Olympic Trials.

It’s the first time a major swimming competition will be held in an American football stadium, and the plan is to set an attendance record for an indoor meet on opening night, June 15. The full capacity is listed at 30,000.

“What you’re going to see if you get to walk around and go behind that curtain is the largest warmup pool ever built for any competition anywhere in the world, 10 50-meter lanes and seven 25-meter lanes,” USA Swimming president and CEO Tim Hinchey III said. “This seating across from me is dedicated solely for our coaches and our athletes. This will be the first time at any of our Olympic Trials where our coaches and athletes will get a front-row seat to watch their teammates swimming and competing to make the Olympic Team.”

The nine-night event gives Indy officials a prime-time slot on national television to showcase the city’s features. But they also expect more immediate benefits with 250,000 visitors in town — prompting Mayor Joe Hogsett to project more than $100 million in revenue being added to the local community.

What will they see? A lighted 66-foot replica of the Eifel Tower, symbolizing the journey 52 Olympians will make to the Paris Olympics, a huge video board and potentially national and world records in the gigantic pool.

And they’ll see just how much has changed since Indy also hosted the Olympic Trials the last time Paris last hosted the Olympics, in 1924.

“They will get to fly to Paris and not have to take a week-long boat ride,” said Patrik Johnson, president of Lilly USA, a corporate sponsor whose headquarters are a short walk away from the retractable roof stadium.

The roof is scheduled to be closed all week.

But the impact of the Olympic Trials will linger long after the governing body and athletes leave town.

Local and national officials have pledged to fund programs for water safety education and teaching 50,000 people how to swim. And all of that water now inside Lucas Oil Stadium, will be safely pumped back into the White River.

But for some of the world’s biggest swimming stars — Katie Ledecky and Caleb Dressel, Simone Manuel and Ryan Murphy — this is a rare opportunity to join the list of athletes such as Peyton and Eli Manning and Tom Brady who have competed in a venue that hosted a Super Bowl, multiple Final Fours, the college football national championship game, NBA All-Star festivities and now, an Olympic Trials.

“The emerald-green turf is now diamond-blue water, and if you’ve been here before, it looks a little different,” Lucas Oil Stadium director Eric Neuburger said. “One of the magical things about Lucas Oil Stadium is the way it can be transformed to the host the world’s most important, coolest and biggest events no matter what field of play is called for.”


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