The 155 acre Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center seeks to become the place for athletes to train for the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028.
The world cup will take place in the United States, Mexico, and Canada in 2026. Two years later, Los Angeles will host the Summer 2028 Olympics.
“One of the things, among the many, that drew me here is what the next seven years will look like,” said President of the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center (CVEATC) Brian Melekian. “Not only in the world but specifically in Southern California. This happened only two times in history, and this will be the third that a specific geographic region within a country will host a world cup and an Olympics within two years of each other.”
According to Melekian, there will be a lot of displacement and the CVEATC would like to offer a home. The facility offers 300 beds, a 24/7 dining hall, support facilities, fields and a lake all in one place.
“It is very difficult, if not impossible to find that anyplace else. Our nearest competition is probably the IMG Academy in Florida. They can’t compete with our location, our pricing structure, our management or with the beautiful surroundings we have in Chula Vista and in Southern California,” Melekian said.
Located just seven miles south of San Diego, the CVEATC opened its doors in 1995 as the first planned U.S. Olympic Training Center. According to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee they like that Chula Vista offers year round weather and sea level training venues.
“We want to establish Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center as the world's best Olympic and Paralympic training campus.” Melekian said.
The facility ownership was transitioned to the City of Chula Vista in 2017 and is operated by Elite Athlete Services which initiated it’s transformation from an Olympic Training Center to a designated U.S Olympic and Paralympic site. According to Melekian, who began his position on May 3 of this year, the CVEATC hosts “an amazing assortment of Paralympic athletes that live, eat and train at the center”.
“When I started working here, I saw a physically challenged athlete doing their best work. It’s very hard not to stay inspired and true to our mission, so we are very proud to be the home of U.S. Paralympics.” Melekian said.
Roughly about 4,100 elite athletes lived or stayed at CVEATC in 2019. An additional 7,300 elite athletes ate, slept, or trained at the site within that same year. U.S.A Rugby, U.S.A Archery, and U.S Paralympic Track and Field are organizations committed for 2022.
“The year 2020 was a challenging year. We all know that and we don't even have to talk about it. We are still feeling those effects in 2021. A very specific example is that groups are much less likely to commit to events for next year because they are not sure what the world is going to look like. We are working very hard to get as much commitment out of our groups in 2022 as possible” Melekian said.
One of the things that got the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee out of running the facilities is that they were not running it profitably according to Melekian. He continued by stating “our mission is to run [the center] in a manner that not only generates profit, but to reinvest that profit back into the facility”.
An adversity the CVEATC faces are the fields and amenities not being suitable for capacity. Development for a long term development plan is underway including natural fields and a new football field that is in demand according to Melekian.
Plans to build a championship field with 3,000 more seats, lighting and multi-use capabilities, more boathouses and docks, a showcase soccer venue seating 2,000, a multi-sports indoor facility and expanded accommodations. Renovations on elite athlete dorms are to be expected.
“There are aspects of this amazing facility that are tiring. They work, they look good but if you work in the business long enough and look behind the curtain, you know there are some things that need to be refurbished,” Melekian said. “The entire mission here is to establish this campus and the premiere training campus in this country in this world.”
The CVEATC hopes to relaunch its website beginning next month to include a donation campaign to generate funds. “I believe that any corporation should come in and attach themselves to the Olympic movement. I believe this is ideal for any large, small or medium sized businesses to come down here and see what we are doing and get involved” Melekian said.
“A part of our mission from when we divested from being the Olympic Training Center to being an Olympic training site is to open our doors to more groups. Some universities came to train here and some world athletes came through our doors in 2019." Melekian added.