National Training Center FAQs

What is the National Training Center project and what is it trying to achieve? 
The mission of the National Training Center is to provide a state-of-the-art facility that serves as a mecca for high-performance climbing, supports the youth development pipeline, enriches the community, and provides dynamic event hosting and unparalleled accessibility – all while catalyzing the financial viability for USA Climbing in perpetuity.

Our vision for USA Climbing’s National Training Center is to be the premier competition climbing destination in the world, embodying four key pillars – Performance, Events, Accessibility, and Community Access. The NTC will cultivate a vibrant competition climbing community while fostering the growth and excellence of athletes at all levels across the country.

How did the NTC project concept get started? 
On August 3, 2016, Sport Climbing was announced as a new Olympic sport for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and participation in the sport exploded. This inflection point elevated the need to prepare our athletes for the world stage at a new level. USA Climbing first piloted the idea of a training center in 2019 in a small warehouse adjacent to the USA Climbing offices in Salt Lake City. The “TC” concept quickly took root and psyched climbers from across the nation relocated to Salt Lake City to chase their dreams together. Even with limited resources, U.S. athletes were back on the map competitively and Utah’s Nathaniel Coleman brought home the sport’s first-ever Olympic silver medal. However, the TC concept needed a permanent solution for our athletes to remain competitive.

The creation of a National Training Center was identified as an organizational objective in the 2020-2024 USA Climbing Strategic Plan. In pursuit of that outcome, the USAC Staff and Board began developing the goals for the NTC facility and a vision of how it might achieve those goals. This effort included research on approaches taken by other national climbing federations and U.S. national governing bodies (NGBs) as well as consultations with those with experience building and operating climbing facilities. Staff also discussed the project with the owners/operators of local Salt Lake City climbing gyms.

What is the status of the project? 
In May 2021, USA Climbing’s Board of Directors voted to approve staff’s request to solicit funds from the State of Utah toward a National Training Center. That solicitation was approved by the state in March 2023, and $15 million in funds were provided in August 2023.

In January 2024, The Board of Directors and staff mutually agreed with the Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency to pause the process for securing a ground lease for a National Training Center site for a period of at least forty-five days. During that time, the Board authorized the creation of a five-member Gym Partner Task Force, which organized roundtable discussions and in-depth surveys which gym operators, as well as athletes and members. In April 2024, the Board of Directors approved the lifting of the self-imposed pause, having collected responses from 1,670 individuals in the NTC stakeholder survey.

USA Climbing recently issued a letter and Request for Interest (RFI) to solicit proposals from experienced gym operators interested in partnering with the organization on the National Training Center project. Those RFI submissions were accepted through May 10, 2024 and are currently in review.

Why hasn’t USA Climbing communicated until now that the project was a possibility?
While the NTC was presented as a goal in the 2020-24 strategic plan, USA Climbing engaged with a limited number of stakeholders about the project prior to securing funds from the state. During that time, USAC staff shared information about the project vision (including preliminary drawings of what the facility might look like) at the 2022 Climbing Wall Association Summit, in discussions with Salt Lake City gym operators, in presentations to Regional Coordinators, and others.

Common to major capital projects, the Board and staff initially chose to wait to make a broad public announcement about the project until a likely site for the facility could be identified and until the fundraising capacity for a capital campaign was validated. In response to questions raised by gym operators and others, we adjusted this approach and launched a series of stakeholder surveys, engaging gym operators, athletes, and members to shape future decisions.

Why locate the NTC in Salt Lake City, Utah? 
Salt Lake City is the current home of USA Climbing’s headquarters. In addition, the State of Utah and Salt Lake City are highly supportive of our sport, as evidenced by Utah’s allocation of funds for the National Training Center and the consistent backing of high-level events. Ease of access via the SLC International Airport, proximity to mass transit, and plentiful accommodations make Salt Lake City an ideal location to host world-class events. Finally, athletes living and training in Salt Lake City also have multiple education options and access to abundant outdoor climbing opportunities.

Is USA Climbing going to open additional National Training Centers around the country? 
No. USA Climbing supports the development of Regional Training Sites owned by commercial gym operators.

Which events would USA Climbing host at the NTC? 
USA Climbing intends to host National Championships, Continental Championships, World Cups, and World Championship events at the NTC. However, we will consider other locations that express interest in hosting.  We will continue to host Regional, Divisional, and potentially some national-level events at commercial gyms throughout the country.

How big is the proposed National Training Center? Why is the proposed facility so big? 
The unique design approach under consideration for the National Training Center goes beyond a training facility to include the ability to host large-scale National and International-level events such as the World Championships. This specific need dictates significant overall square footage to accommodate the necessary open space for spectators, but the purpose-built design yields less actual climbing terrain than most large, commercial climbing gyms.

The conceptual plan is approximately a 55,000 square foot footprint and 80,000 total square feet. However, once formal design takes place this may change. To deliver world-class, international events, we estimate needing indoor capacity for 1500+ spectators in the Lead/Tope Rope/Speed bay and 1500+ spectators in the Boulder bay. In the outdoor plaza, we estimate needing capacity for 3500-5000+ spectators. These capacity needs require sizable open space, egress, and circulation, especially to achieve a fully accessible layout. For context, 2,000 spectators require a minimum of 16,000 square feet of open floor space.

Will there be dedicated areas for high-performance athletes and athlete development? 
We want to provide our National Team and Paraclimbing National Team athletes with the specialized spaces they need to be successful on the world stage in all climbing disciplines.  To create optimal training conditions, setting would be lower density, higher grade, competition-style with higher turnover. Dedicated spaces, subject to input from athletes and coaches, would likely include National Team locker rooms, recovery space, nutrition support, and team terrain.

What options are you considering for community access?
USA Climbing believes the NTC has the potential to serve as a beacon to inspire the community through climbing. Funding for the NTC from the State of Utah is contingent on offering access to the public, but no decision has been made on exactly what form this might take. For example, there could be opportunities for developing climbers to test their abilities side-by-side with the nation’s elite athletes and a beginner’s mezzanine purpose-built for students from local school districts to try the sport. The hope is that students will carry their newfound excitement for climbing home, encouraging their families to visit and join their local climbing gyms. When USA Climbing requested funds from the State of Utah, it proposed that the National Training Center offer access on a sliding scale to members of the local community based on income.

How would community access affect commercial gym operators?  
We are in ongoing discussions with local Salt Lake City gym owners about the potential impacts of the National Training Center project. We believe the NTC will promote the growth of the sport and result in more people with chalk on their hands, which would benefit local operators.

What is the proposed organizational structure of the National Training Center?
As envisioned, the NTC would be a single-member LLC owned and overseen by USA Climbing.  It would be a nonprofit entity.

How much would it cost to build the National Training Center?
We anticipate the total cost to build a facility as originally envisioned and presented to the State of Utah to be approximately $30 million.

Where is the money coming from to build and operate the National Training Center?
All funds for the development and ongoing operations of the facility will be borne by the NTC LLC. The State of Utah has awarded a grant of $15M and we intend to secure the remaining funding from sponsorships and fundraising. No funds are being used from USA Climbing to support the development or ongoing operation of the National Training Center.

Would revenue from the National Training Center LLC jeopardize USA Climbing’s non-profit status?
Revenues generated from the NTC would be reinvested to support the core mission of the organization and would, therefore, not jeopardize USA Climbing’s non-profit status. For example, revenue from the National Training Center could support increased gym partner compensation for hosting events, increased volunteer support, and increased athlete prize money at events.

Is there financial or insurance risk to USA Climbing from the NTC LLC?
No. The financial and liability risk is maintained at the National Training Center LLC.

Who would operate the NTC?
The National Training Center would have its own dedicated staff with a General Manager responsible for the day-to-day operations, enabling USA Climbing staff to continue their focus on supporting the growth and development of the sport nationwide.

Various other operating models are being considered, including scenarios where the USA Climbing or the National Training Center LLC is not the operator of the facility.

How do I provide input about the NTC project? How do I stay updated?
An online survey was recently emailed to all USAC members to share thoughts about the proposed goals and features of the project, collecting responses from 1,670 individuals. While that survey is now closed, you may also provide input about the NTC project at any time by sending an email to info@usaclimbing.org. We also encourage you to check the NTC landing page for ongoing updates.

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