SBD/February 21, 2013/Olympics

Cities Begin Responding To USOC Inquiry On Bidding To Host '24 Summer Games

San Antonio Sports Chair George Block yesterday "dismissed the idea that the city could host a Summer Olympics in 2024," according to Richard Oliver of the SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS. Block said of the possibility, "Not a chance. It's a multibillion-dollar expense and fundraising. That's (for) Chicago and other cities with multiple corporate headquarters." He added, "We'd nowhere near be able to raise that sort of money. From a priority standpoint, we're nowhere near that" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 2/21). San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed yesterday said that potentially hosting the '24 Games "is just too rich for a city still struggling to keep its libraries open and cops on the beat." Reed: "It takes billions of dollars to put on the Olympics. San Jose doesn't have billions to put into Olympic games ... San Jose cannot afford to put in a bid" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 2/21). Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard's Communications Dir Marc Lotter said, "We would look at it. We are very flattered to be considered. But I don't think we would have the infrastructure to host something like that at this time." Indiana Sports Corp. VP/Communications John Dedman: "We could not meet the requirements (to host an Olympics) right now" (INDYSTAR.com, 2/20). Nashville Mayor Karl Dean's Press Secretary Bonna Johnson said, "Hosting the Olympics is a massive undertaking and would be extremely expensive." In Nashville, Joey Garrison notes though the city has "several hotels set to come online over the next few years, Davidson and its surrounding counties only boast 36,163 hotel rooms" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 2/21). City of Rochester Deputy Communications Dir Michael Keane said, "From an infrastructure standpoint, it's not practical. I highly doubt there are 45,000 hotel rooms in all of Monroe County" (DEMOCRATANDCHRONICLE.com, 2/20).

Mayor Lee Leffingwell said that Austin "would stand up well" in bidding for '24 Games

CALL ME MAYBE: Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell said that he "believes Austin would stand up well to its competition." Leffingwell: "We've proven that time and again, we are very competitive." However, Circuit of the Americas Chair Bobby Epstein yesterday in an e-mail wrote, "No way to make money on the Games. Greece went bankrupt on them and London is still trying to pay bills. We don't even have an airport with global routes or dozens of customs officers. We don't have any stadiums in place" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 2/21). In Jacksonville, Timothy Gibbons writes while a bid would "seem to fit with Mayor Alvin Brown's emphasis on bringing sports to the city, it might not jibe so well with the focus on cutting costs." It would be "an uphill trek for the city." The USOC said that it wants the host city "to have 45,000 hotel rooms, but Jacksonville had to bring in cruise ships just to meet the NFL's threshold of 17,500 rooms when it hosted the Super Bowl." Still, the city "isn't flat-out ruling out the possibility of being interested in the idea" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 2/21). Harris County Houston Sports Authority CEO Janis Schmees said that it was "too early to gauge Houston's interest in a 2024 bid." Schmees: "We've been through this before, and we understand the process. We have great relationships internationally and good venues, so it will be a matter of whether it is worth our resources to have a bid." In Houston, David Barron noted the city was "one of four semifinalists for the 2012 U.S. bid city designation but lost out to New York." Houston also was "eliminated in the early stages of the 2016 U.S. bid process that settled on Chicago" (CHRON.com, 2/20).

ON THE FENCE: Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, Allegheny County Exec Rich Fitzgerald and other community leaders said that they "won't reject out of hand" bidding for the '24 Games. They said that because Pittsburgh "staged world-class events such as the G-20 Summit and One Young World during the past four years ... the region would consider an Olympic bid" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 2/21). But the POST-GAZETTE's Bob Smizik writes the city "could never handle the Olympics, nor, if it foolishly did decide to submit a bid would it have any chance of winning" (POST-GAZETTE.com, 2/21).  Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter's Press Secretary Mark McDonald yesterday was "noncommittal" about whether the city would bid. But he spoke "enthusiastically about what an honor it would be to host the Games." McDonald: "We have a pretty impressive array of facilities and amenities that would get us close to the starting line" (PHILLY.com, 2/20).
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