Our History

Small Olympic Park Logo

Our History

During the organization of the 1996 Olympic Games, a Gainesville resident, Mr. Bill Fields, served as a member of the U.S. Olympic Atlanta Organizing Committee.  Having been a member of the Great 8 rowing crew and 1952 Olympic Gold Medalist, he personally recommended that Lake Lanier was the perfect location for the rowing and canoe/kayak event for the 1996 games due to its natural barriers, calm water and long open stretches of water.  Because of his role in creating Lake Lanier Olympic Park, we are proud to welcome visitors with a beautiful butterfly garden at the entrance in honor of him and his family. The Fields family will always hold a special place in our hearts as they are the reason the Lake Lanier Olympic Park exists.

After the Olympics the Lake Lanier Rowing Club and Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club were established to continue the Olympic Legacy and foster the next generation of athletes. Between 1996 and 2015, the clubs hosted numerous regional, state, national and international competitions along with recreational opportunities for the community.

In 2015 a group of community leaders saw the need to establish formal operations of the park.  Lake Lanier Olympic Park Foundation (formally known as Gainesville-Hall 96) was re-established and contracted to manage the day to day operations of the park. In the first 4 years of establishment, the foundation invested over $1.5 million dollars into the Olympic Park through public-private sponsorships and support. These investments consisted of new docks, race course equipment and renovation of the Olympic Plaza and Tower. ADA Compliance was major part of these renovations with the construction of a new ADA Ramp and Bridge access into the tower. Due to these improvements, GH96 was able to host the 2016 Pan American Championship (Olympic Qualifier) and the 2018 ICF Dragon Boat World Championships. In 2019, the City of Gainesville annexed the park and took over the day to operations.

Today the Olympic Park is truly a community park, hosting various community activities from Regattas, Food Truck Nights, Concerts and numerous festivals. The Lake Lanier Olympic Park Foundation, the Olympic Legacy continues to drive and navigate our growth into one of the best facilities around the world for athletes and community members alike.