Fleets of skaters will compete in Lincoln again next year when the USA Roller Sports National Championships returns.
The championships left last summer after Pershing Center closed. The USA Roller Sports Board of Directors decided two weeks ago to have it at Speedway Sporting Village in 2016 and 2017, said Executive Director Richard Hawkins.
As in past years, more than 2,000 skaters are expected.
Hawkins lives in Lincoln and said he’s looking forward to not having to leave home for weeks at a time.
USA Roller Sports is based here.
The national championships are in Albuquerque this year, with inline speed skating, rink hockey and roller figure skating competitions.
The three-week event starts in mid-July and typically switches venues every year. It bounces among Albuquerque, Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Philadelphia, to name a few.
But it always seems to find its way back to Lincoln, which has hosted more than any other city.
Next year, Hawkins said they'll use the indoor field house at Speedway Sporting Village south of Van Dorn Street and Park Boulevard. At nearly 50,000 square feet, the building will allow USA Roller Sports to put down two separate wood floors down and have multiple events simultaneously, he said.
Speed skating and rink hockey will take place at the same time, and figure skaters will be able to practice on one floor while competing on the other.
USA Roller Sports is considering adding roller derby next year as well, said Hawkins.
Andrew Ferguson, director of Speedway Sporting Village, said the facility was built to accommodate many types of events.
“I think it’ll be a very spectacular facility for that, period,” he said.
Speedway offers amenities including a large mezzanine overlooking the playing field, a restaurant, free parking and access to the Nebraska Sports Performance Institute and its physical therapists and chiropractors.
“It’s kind of a holistic place where we can take care of just about every need the athlete has,” Ferguson said.
He’ll likely move bleachers onto the main floor and place a large curtain between the two skating floors so competitors and spectators don’t have to be distracted by each other.
“We’re just excited,” he said. “We look forward to keeping it here as long as the cycle allows.”