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Proposed Irvine Aquatic Center Up in the Air

You can call them a team without a home court.

Orange County is home to many of Team USA’s water polo players and its Olympic gold medals, but despite being made up of elite athletes of the sport, the team does not have a facility of its own. Now the team and its supporters are speaking out — very concerned that plans to build one are in jeopardy.

At a special meeting for Irvine’s Great Park Tuesday, board members applauded plans to move forward on an anticipated park on the grounds. The plan includes, among other amenities, an amphitheater, two lakes, a promenade and a park.

Team USA told NBC4 that up until recently, phase one of the development included the USA Water Polo facility. However, the team noticed last week that the facility disappeared from the plans.

The City of Irvine says that priorities have shifted and the aquatic center is now part of proposed phase two, which means that even if approved, these athletes won’t have a dedicated facility as they train for the 2028 Olympics in water polo’s hometown of Los Angeles.

“We train year-round all four years, we don’t just get together two weeks before the Olympics. Having them there as role models, mentors, leaders for families and other young aquatic athletes is a huge benefit to the city,” said Chris Ramsey, CEO of USA Water Polo. “The idea that we cannot support them with a proper training venue, to me, is just sad.”

City leaders say they understood that Long Beach facilities would host water polo for LA 2028. The city says it was also concerned the planned aquatic center would not serve enough of the greater community.

Team USA supporters say they have and always will support an aquatic center that the entire community can call home.

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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