Dickies Arena is hosting the U.S. Olympic team trials for wrestling on Friday and Saturday. Jason Sands, director of the Fort Worth Sports Commission, said the event includes 220 wrestlers from around the country.
"This weekend's winners will represent Team USA in Tokyo this summer," Sands said.
"It's a huge honor for the city to host an Olympic trial. Not a lot of cities get to do that, and we were able to do that in a five-week turnaround because of our great partnership with USA Wrestling," Sands said.
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"We got a call about five weeks ago that the venue for the Olympic trials was not going to work out. We were the first call that USA Wrestling made. I think it goes back to their experience here in 2019 when we hosted their senior nationals. They had a phenomenal experience here. They loved the city, they loved the team."
One of the athletes competing this weekend is Tamyra Mensah-Stock of Houston. Mensah-Stock is the reigning women's world champion in her weight class, meaning she can skip the early rounds on day one and will be on the mat for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in a best of three.
Like others, Mensah-Stock was disappointed when the 2020 games were delayed due to the pandemic. Looking back, however, she also called it a blessing in disguise.
"It actually allowed me to take a breather and just be with myself and with God. I was able to spend more time with my husband," Mensah-Stock said. "It's like stepping stones, and I feel like I was meant to do this. I love wrestling, so I am always just trying to get out there to the next competition. I am enjoying the journey."
Fans are allowed to watch the trials at Dickies Arena, according to Arena Marketing Director Alissa Sanderson. The arena is currently operating at a capacity of about 50%, masks are required, and seating will be through distant pods.
Sands said they expect more than 4,000 attendees throughout the trials.
"Those folks are in our restaurants, staying in our hotels, visiting our attractions, and really taking in that Fort Worth experience," he said. "We estimate this event to have an over $2 million economic impact with over 4,000 rooms booked, so a great piece of business and great opportunity for our city to shine as we come out of this pandemic."
Reata Restaurant is one of many businesses that have had to pivot their services during the pandemic. The downtown Fort Worth steakhouse has been in Sundance Square since May 2002, according to restaurant president Mike Micallef.
"Our traditional business, which is being a lot of convention business and being a lot of business traffic, basically went to zero," Micallef said.
Business has gotten better in recent months with more events being scheduled, Micallef said.
"You're managing real estate, almost. You're trying to get as many people in as you can so any event like the wrestling competition, like the cheer competitions that we've had over the last couple of months, helps brings those extra visitors that wouldn't have normally been here," he said.
The wrestling trials on April 2 and 3 include separate sessions:
Friday, April 2
Session I - 10 a.m.
Session II - 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 3
Session III - 12 p.m.
Session IV - 6:30 p.m.
This will be the fifth straight trial where all three Olympic wrestling teams will be determined at the same time. Men's freestyle, women's freestyle and Greco-Roman will all be featured.