All dry now: The Bermuda National Aquatics Centre is expected to be completed by the end of 2012 and perhaps as early as third quarter of this year. When construction is completed, it will house a 50m pool. *Photo by Don Burgess
All dry now: The Bermuda National Aquatics Centre is expected to be completed by the end of 2012 and perhaps as early as third quarter of this year. When construction is completed, it will house a 50m pool. *Photo by Don Burgess
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FRIDAY, FEB. 17: Toddlers to seniors are going to be able to use the new national aquatic centre and not just elite athletes.

The centre, which will be able to host swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming, will also have a host of recreational, community-based activities.

It is expected to completed by the end of this year.

Sports Minister Glenn Blakeney said: “Our vision for the Aquatic Centre, which will be the only 50m pool on the Island upon completion, is a community-centric facility that offers a range of aquatic opportunities.

“We envisage that the Aquatic Centre will be utilized by both elite athletes who are very serious about water-based sports, as well as recreational individuals who merely want to enjoy an afternoon in the pool.

“This will require a well-designed operational schedule that reflects the requirements of each type of activity.”

To help make that happen, the board of trustees has hired Asbell Management.

Sean Tucker, chairman of the board of trustees for the National Sports Centre, said ‘rather than reinventing the wheel” in designing how the centre should be run, the trustees decided to bring in Bernie Asbell from Asbell Management to assist them.

Tucker said: “We remain on course to complete this project in the third or fourth quarter of 2012.

“The next phase is to operate this facility,” which won’t be just for high performance athletes but “will also include toddlers, school children, swimming clubs, those who are there for therapeutic purposes as well as seniors.”

Asbell said: “This facility … is about building community.”

Asbell said he would be devising an operating strategy to help bring in revenue to operate the aquatics centre. “We will look at what models there are out there in the world and decide what might be best for Bermuda.”

He said that plan would be in place before construction is completed.

Asbell said the board has a responsibility to make the facility financially sustainable.

Tucker added in order to properly run the centre said there will have to be full-time staff, which would not be limited to life guards, maintenance people, and a facilities manager.

Blakeney said the exact number of staff hired would not be known until the centre’s programme is designed.

He said the operation expenses would be partially offset by a grant from Government, but the facility will have to generate “revenue streams”.

Blakeney added that could include selling memberships to the aquatics centre, concession stands, the possibility of using the Centre as a parking facility and having someone run a shuttle bus into Hamilton.

Expenses could also be met by people paying to use the centre for specific services like an open swim time. Blakeney said people paying for a “one off use” may decide a membership is more appealing and opt for that instead.

Tucker said “a critical part” of what Asbell is doing is figuring out the best money-making model for the Aquatics Centre.

“Bernie’s remit is to come up with the best strategy to maximize the return on the investment, not only financially but for the community as well.